We Are Not A Nation Of Conspiracy Theorists. (Or Are We?)
F.B.I. Takes Extraordinary Step Of Publicly Confronting White House And House Intelligence Committee, As Trump And His Cohorts Continue To Try To Make The Russia Investigation Itself The Scandal, Rather Than What The Investigation Is Finding
Here’s the F.B.I.’s statement in its entirety:
The memorandum referred to is the one written by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes.
But why does that memo have so much appeal among those who embrace it (including the President)? It supposedly details misdeeds by federal investigators in the form of giving incomplete information when seeking a warrant for surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
The White House now has the memo and is currently deciding whether to release it or not. Trump has said he wants to.
Thing is, if you believe the F.B.I. is teeming with agents who have a singular determination to take Trump down, the F.B.I.’s latest statement only reinforces that. So if you buy into that, the F.B.I. calling out the shady Nunes memo as very likely a lie, is the strongest possible sign for you that it’s true.
Broader question: who’s the brains behind this strategy? In the old days Bannon would’ve gotten the credit. Is it Trump himself? He’s certainly good at the messaging that goes along with it.
Politico puts the current state of things in very stark terms, asserting “Trump’s Saturday Night Massacre Is Happening Before Our Eyes”.
The Washington Post suggests it puts relatively newly-appointed F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray “in the President’s crosshairs”.
Separately, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is requesting former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s sentencing be postponed by 90-days. A move being read as a signal Flynn is proving valuable to the investigation (although it could also be a total bluff).
Permission To Purge…
The most ominous line in Trump’s State of the Union may be one a lot of us missed. Possibly because it’s highly unlikely to actually happen. But who the hell knows.
Trump calling on Congress to give each Cabinet Secretary the authority to “remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people”. Here’s the clip:
First of all, bureaucrats who work under all kinds of administrations are essential to keeping the federal government running, and in some cases it’s absolutely essential they continue their work, without threat, regardless of who’s President. (You wouldn’t want a massive purge of the C.I.A. or F.B.I. every time a new President takes office). The idea being professionals will be professional enough to to their jobs.
So allowing firing based on politics or a “loyalty pledge” each time an Administration changes would wreak havoc on the federal government.
At the same time, Trump is already pushing in that direction, reassigning employees at departments like the E.P.A. and Interior to positions they don’t want, in an effort to push them out and replace them with Trump loyalists, or in many cases, nobody. He’s also inserted “consultants” who would never make it through a formal Congressional approval process, into various powerful Cabinet Department posts.
Editorial: We Ask Again: If Trump Truly Believes Current Immigration Policy Enables Drug Gangs And Terrorists, Why Is He Proposing Letting A Million More Undocumented Immigrants Stay In The Country Than Democrats Proposed?
Because it’s a stunt. Because the conditions for letting all those extra people stay are so onerous that Democrats (or any normal person) will never be able to accept them. That will give Trump the ability to say he tried to be “very generous“ but all Democrats wanted to do was obstruct. And if Democrats push it so far that they shut down the government again (which they should) Trump will argue again that they care more about undocumented immigrants than actual Americans. You know, because “Americans are Dreamers too”…
As if to prove our point, Trump Tweets this early this morning (the March 5th date Trump refers to is the date DACA runs out, the next possible shutdown date is much closer, February 8th, just a week away):
We have no problem with hardball politics. Except we’re not talking about testing out some economic theory or broad social policy here. We are talking about people who stand to get tossed out of virtually the only home they’ve ever known.
Why Would Trump’s Justice Department Drop Charges Against A Top Democrat?
New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez won’t be put on trial again, after his first trial on corruption charges ended with a hung jury. Prosecutors had originally said they would try him again. Menendez was accused of doing favors in exchange for political donations.
So why is he now suddenly off the hook? It has a lot to do with a recent Supreme Court ruling involving the former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who had been accused of accepting bribes from a businessman. The Court’s ruling in favor of McDonnell makes it much more difficult for prosecutors to prove corruption on the part of elected officials.
electionlawblog opines: “It now looks like elected officials can accept gifts and engage in all kinds of odious behavior without running afoul of bribery and related rules”, but suggests fixing that would be simple if Congress has the will to make gift-getting rules stricter.
Don’t hold your breath…
Another Top Republican Decides Not To Stick Around To See What’s Coming Next
House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy is calling it quits. The South Carolina Representative was considered a future candidate for Speaker of the House.
In a statement, Gowdy saying he will be “returning to the justice system”, adding “I enjoy our justice system more than our political system”. That might seem to point at a move to the federal bench. However, Politico says he recently turned down an appointment to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Gowdy will be best remembered for his fervid investigations of Hillary Clinton.
We’ve coincidentally been doing some research on Gowdy in recent days, and were struck by how the main photo still on his official website looks so unlike he does now. And it’s not really an old photo, since Gowdy has only been in office since 2010. Washington does have a way of wearing you down. So we think perhaps that has something to do with it too.
(This story originally appeared in “The Chaos Report” Newsletter. Subscribe for free at https://thechaosreport.com/subscribe/?scr=Medium)