PowerLine -> How Comey put his interests ahead of his country’s – Comey’s calculations

PowerLine -> How Comey put his interests ahead of his country’s – Comey’s calculations

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  • Memo to the U.K.: Don’t Be Boring, Go for Boris!
  • Trumplaw tolls for me
  • Adam West, RIP
  • How Comey put his interests ahead of his country’s
  • Comey’s calculations
Memo to the U.K.: Don’t Be Boring, Go for Boris!

Posted: 11 Jun 2017 10:57 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I don’t know what’s ahead for Britain after this total cluster-you-know-what election, but can we please, PLEASE have this man as the next prime minister? I mean, cmon, why is this even a question? (more…)

Trumplaw tolls for me

Posted: 11 Jun 2017 06:51 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

These are strange days. I seem to have been caught up in the so-called “travel ban” litigation challenging President Trump’s executive orders “Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” Yesterday I was served with a letter and draft subpoena from one Tana Lin of the Keller Rohrback law firm’s Seattle office alerting me to my “document preservation obligations with respect to documents that are relevant or potentially relevant to this litigation.” Lin represents plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump, the venue in the federal district court for the Western District of Washington.

Although this action has been stayed pending a ruling from the Ninth Circuit in the parallel Hawaii v Trump “travel ban” case, Judge Robart has authorized Lin to notify me of her lawsuit and seek my confirmation by June 15 that I will preserve potentially relevant documents until such time as she sends me a formal subpoena or the lawsuit is formally resolved.

Is this some kind of a joke?

Leafing through the draft subpoena to ascertain what documents I could possibly have that would be relevant to the stayed “travel ban” lawsuit, I find this (capitalization in the original indicating defined terms):

1. All Documents and Communications Concerning President Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims, Christians or refugees during the April 24, 2017 reception for media at the White House which you and/or your colleagues attended. This request includes but is not limited to contemporaneous notes or recordings you made or taken [sic] of the event.

2. The notebook referenced in one of Your blog post entries regarding the April 24, 2017 reception in which You state, “Although there was some degree of difficulty writing while standing, I took notes on the questions and Trump’s answers in my new notebook from CVS.”

3. Documents reflecting Your Document retention policies or procedures in effect from January 1, 2017 through the present.

The two footnotes I have omitted from the requests above cite “At the White House with Trump” (reporting on Trump’s remarks) and “Not at the White House with Trump” (mentioning my notebook).

Adapting one of the introductions to Twilight Zone, we are “traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination….the Twilight Zone!” The Twilight Zone of Trumplaw!

Adam West, RIP

Posted: 11 Jun 2017 12:59 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

If you’re the right age—which means my age—then the first TV Batman series with Adam West and Burt Ward was the highlight of the TV week back when there were only the three networks.

West was typecast by that iconic role even more than William Shatner was typecast by Captain Kirk, and West could never escape it. In later years West embraced his campiness and typecast image (see his apparently genuine phone book listings at the bottom), and in the early 1990s starred in a pilot for a sitcom that sadly no one picked up called “Lookwell.” It was written and produced by Conan O’Brien, who you all know, and Robert Smigel, better known today as the genius behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.

In “Lookwell” West turns in a self-aware self-mocking performance that suggests he’d have been a really fun guy to spend an evening with in a bar. If you have 22 spare minutes, the pilot episode of “Lookwell” is here:

How Comey put his interests ahead of his country’s

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 08:14 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Andy McCarthy asks why President Trump fired James Comey. He concludes that Trump did so because he believed Comey intentionally misled the public into thinking Trump was under investigation by the FBI.

I think that’s probably the reason. As I have said, it seems clear that, at a minimum, Comey’s refusal publicly to say that Trump is not under investigation played a major role in the discharge decision.

It’s easy to understand why Trump would want the public to know that he isn’t under investigation. Why should a president, whose job surely is difficult enough, labor under the perception of a “cloud” that’s based on a false perception?

Only a hyperpartisan Democrat would think that the president should be burdened in this way. Thus, it was natural for Trump to conclude that Comey, in refusing to say publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation, was intentionally misleading the public for a bad purpose.

Was Trump right about this? To answer the question, we must begin with Comey’s explanation for not publicly stating that Trump wasn’t being investigated.

Comey testified that he didn’t want to make the statement because doing so would place him under an obligation to correct (or update) the record if, later on, Trump was investigated. But what’s wrong with that?

It would be bad for Trump if such an update occurred. However, it should have been Trump’s call whether to assume the risk of an update. If Trump believed, notwithstanding that risk, he could serve more effectively if Comey told the public the truth — that he isn’t under investigation — Comey should have deferred to the president.

But Comey had a reason of his own not to. As he testified, he had a bad experience with providing updates on the status of a high-profile investigation. I’m referring, of course, to the Hillary Clinton investigation. Comey created quite a storm when he told the Senate that the Clinton investigation had been reopened. He still bears the scars, as he made clear during his testimony.

It’s understandable that Comey didn’t want to go through the “updating” experience again, or even create the possibility of going through it. But Comey’s personal desire shouldn’t have caused him to reject a reasonable request by the U.S. president for a simple statement to the public that would make it easier for the president to perform his job.

What’s more important, the president’s ability to function free from false suspicion or the desire of the FBI director to avoid a potential firestorm? The question answers itself. If Comey’s fear of another firestorm was behind his unwillingness to tell the public that Trump wasn’t being investigated, he should have resigned.

I think, though, that something else — another personal interest — was also at play. Imagine the outcry from Democrats and the mainstream media if Comey had declared publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation.

Comey had already made two public declarations adverse to Democrats — his press conference laying out the evidence regarding Clinton’s emails and his “Update” informing the Senate that the investigation had been reopened. A third such declaration — that Trump isn’t being investigated — would have been seen as final proof that this once praised figure was a tool of the Republicans.

Any chance of restoring his status as “fiercely independent” and willing to stand up to Republican presidents would be gone. Comey would have been viewed as bowing to Trump’s will. And, of course, the fact that Trump had leaned on him would make Comey feel there was truth to this. His self-image would also take a hit.

Again, we must ask: What’s more important, the president’s ability to function free from false suspicion or the desire of the FBI director to restore his public image and retain his self-image? Again, the question answers itself.

I can’t prove that Comey refused Trump’s reasonable request for either of the self-serving reasons described above. But doesn’t it almost have to be true that he did so either for one or both of these reasons or for the reason that McCarthy says Trump believed was at play — an affirmative desire to have the public believe that Trump is under investigation. In other words, Comey almost certainly acted out of self-interest or malice.

Either way, he deserved to be fired. But that’s a separate question from whether firing him has turned out to be a good idea from Trump’s perspective.

Comey’s calculations

Posted: 10 Jun 2017 06:25 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

“James Comey is a ‘leaker’ — but that doesn’t make him a criminal.” That’s the headline of a Washington Post story by Matt Zapotosky.

The Post’s story tries to create the impression that, in fact, Comey is not a criminal. But Zapatosky undertakes no analysis of the law. Instead, he cites “legal analysts.”

However, none of the analysts in question addresses the question of whether Comey committed a crime. The closest to such a statement is from our friend Shannen Coffin. He says:

I’m not suggesting it’s a good thing to leak. I think it’s abhorrent conduct. But in terms of criminal prosecution, I find that hard to imagine in this context.

I agree. But just because Comey almost surely will not be prosecuted doesn’t mean he didn’t violate the law.

Jonathan Turley, the well-known law professor, writes:

Comey falls under federal laws governing the disclosure of classified and nonclassified information. Assuming that the memos were not classified. . .there is 18 U.S.C. § 641 which makes it a crime to steal, sell, or convey “any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof.”

Comey conveyed records to his pal the Columbia professor who conveyed them to the New York Times. Though neither Comey nor the professor will be prosecuted, it’s arguable that they both broke the law.

Turley also points out that Comey was subject to non-disclosure agreements he signed, as well as FBI rules limiting disclosure. Comey may have violated some of these obligations, though I agree with Shannen Coffin that prosecution is extremely unlikely.

It’s important to keep in mind that Comey’s partner in leaking (and possibly in crime) was Columbia law professor Dan Richman. Prof. Richman isn’t just a friend of Comey’s. According to his Columbia web page, he is an adviser to Comey. Undoubtedly, the two made a very careful calculation of the pros and con, including potential prosecution, of their leaking.

Here is what they must have decided:

First, although Comey has overseen more leak investigations and prosecutions than any administration in history (according to attorney Edward MacMahon) and has denounced leaking (he did so again at the hearing on Thursday), he would leak the memos.

Second, to reduce the chance that the leak would be traced back to Comey, the law professor would serve as a “cutout.” Richman would do the dirty work.

Third, the fact that the leak would almost certainly be seen as coming from inside the FBI, thus hurting the FBI’s standing in the public mind, didn’t matter. Comey’s standing in the public mind was more important than the FBI’s.

Fourth, because the risk of prosecution for the leaks would be practically nil even if the leaks were traced back to Comey, the leaks should proceed in order to advance Comey’s agenda regardless of whether the leaking violated the letter of the law, and/or FBI rules, and/or non-disclosure agreements Comey signed.

This is the man who constantly claims the moral high ground. This is the man who asks us to believe his account of President Trump’s conduct.

Before Thursday’s hearing began, I was inclined to. Having read Comey’s prepared remarks, I expected that Comey and Trump would disagree regarding important factual questions. Given Comey’s reputation for integrity, whatever his faults, and given my view that Trump has been less than honest at times, I thought that — other things being equal — Comey should have the edge when it comes to weighing credibility.

I no longer see it that way. My view of Trump hasn’t changed, but my view of Comey has. Clearly, he is far from the straight shooter he holds himself out as. His primary interest isn’t the truth; it’s having his way. Kind of like Trump, but without the electoral mandate.

I’m no more inclined to believe Comey than to believe Trump.

What a mess.

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