On the Comey Memos

As you read this thread, remember that whoever leaked the Comey memos is also likely to be one of the people who is calling for Andrew McCabe to be prosecuted for leaking to the media.

January 6, 2017: Trump doesn’t deny the golden showers, just that they were prostitutes

Here’s the operative passage on Trump’s response to being informed about the pee tape.

I think the exchange has been distorted by Comey, who is a prig that would judge anything that reeks of kink.

Trump doesn’t actually deny he engaged in some kind of golden showers event. Rather, he denies there were prostitutes. He’s only denying he paid for sex. Given the way Trump’s associative brain raised what we now know to be hush payments for actual behavior, this seems closer to a confirmation than a denial.

His reference to 2013, while it might be deceit, might also be amazement that the Russians were digging up old dirt.

I’m particularly interested in the redaction, which must say something about the dossier (and possibly Steele’s identity, though Comey didn’t share it). We don’t know who leaked that Trump got briefed on the memo, and I don’t rule out CIA leaking it. But Comey tells Trump that he wants to keep two things secret — that FBI has the dossier and something about the circumstances of the dossier. Those details very quickly leaked. I think it possible — likely even — that Trump leaked these details precisely because Comey said he wanted them kept secret.

January 27, 2017: Trump asks for loyalty, then asks for investigation

While Comey admits that he’s not sure he got the order of the private dinner between him and Trump correct, as he lays it out, Trump raises loyalty (to which Comey doesn’t respond), then asks Comey to investigation the pee tape to prove it wrong, then asks for loyalty again.

I’ve joked that no one should complain now that an investigation arose out of the dossier since Trump asked for just that, but in context, I think the exchange is even more important. Trump asked for an investigation from a loyal person. He expected an investigation that would exonerate him and he tied that to loyalty.

And all that took place against the background of Sally Yates warning Don McGahn about what Mike Flynn had said with Sergei Kislyak. In the conversation, Trump introduced a claim that he doubted Flynn’s judgment, because he hadn’t immediately told Trump that Putin was the first to congratulate Trump on his inauguration (he was among the first to call after the election as well).

I’ve always wondered why Flynn’s firing is treated as part of the obstruction investigation, and not part of the conspiracy. I think the explanation lies, at least partly, in this exchange. It’s clearly spin. It’s not just that Trump was complaining that Flynn wasn’t passing on his messages quickly enough, but it’s that he’s creating the suggestion that Flynn was running Russia response independently, which he wasn’t.

That is, Trump’s first exchange with Comey after learning Flynn was under investigation was to put some distance between the two of them.

February 8, 2017: At a meet-and-greet with Priebus, Comey meets Flynn and Trump

Comey goes for what he calls a meet-and-greet with Reince Priebus, whom he has said he should primarily work with. But before that happens, Flynn sits down with him for five minutes (remember they would have worked together in 2013-2014), without mentioning the FBI interview.

During the Priebus interview, after an extended discussion about the dossier (remember, Paul Manafort had contacted Priebus weeks earlier to discuss the dossier, and possibly to lay out a rebuttal plan to it), he asks whether there’s a FISA order on Flynn.

Here’s analysis suggesting Comey’s answer was yes, here’s one suggesting it was no. The analysis is made more difficult because Comey uses double spaces after a period.

Contextually, the answer was probably no because:

  • Otherwise Comey wouldn’t have made an exception to the normal reporting channels
  • Ordinarily, it takes a while to get a FISC order; the concern about Flynn intensified on January 5, but in the January 24 interview, FBI Agents generally thought he was being honest
  • At this point, FBI was delaying the normal briefing of the counterintelligence investigation because of sensitivity concerns

In any case, though the meeting was supposed to be with Priebus, the Chief of Staff brought Comey into meet with Trump (this feels sort of like another job interview). During it, Trump first raised this remarkably (for him) awkward Putin attempt to protect Trump from the prostitute allegation in the dossier — though like Trump, he’s denying that the women were prostitutes, not that he was with women; Trump claims that Putin said this directly to him, which given Putin’s awkwardness could well be the case. Trump then raised Russian pique with Bill O’Reilly for a question about Putin; Comey judges Trump took offense to his distinction between Russian and US killings (though I’m not even sure that’s right).

February 14, 2017: Trump emphasizes the Flynn didn’t do anything wrong

There are actually three parts to the Flynn content in the famous oval office meeting: a first exchange where Trump defended what Flynn did repeatedly, a second one where Trump complained (rightly) about the leak of the FISA wiretap, and the third exchange about “letting this go.”

Given the context of the Priebus question about the wiretap less than a week earlier, I actually think that’s what the point was. The White House had to get rid of Flynn as an effort to squelch the investigation into actions Trump himself had ordered. But that was only going to work if the FBI did drop the Flynn investigation.

March 1, 2017: Trump calls to check in (and invite Comey to the White House)

This call, which Comey memorialized in an email to Jim Rybicki, seemed designed to get Comey to come of his own accord to the White House. More importantly, the day before Jeff Sessions’ recusal, Trump wanted to get cozy with Comey.

March 30, 2017: Trump asks the cloud be removed

The released memos raise two new details about the “cloud hanging over” phone conversation on March 30. Amid his other comments designed to convince Comey he was innocent, Trump also said he was going to sue Christopher Steele.

This would have been between the Webzilla and the Alfa Bank suits, and long before Michael Cohen launched his ill-advised (and now dropped) suit. While Trump is a litigious fuck and we can’t conclude anything by his threatened suit, it a detail that suggests coordinated lawfare was part of the plan.

In addition, Trump made a reference that made Comey think his “satellite” comment pertained to Sergei Millian. That’s interesting given that 1) George Papadopoulos was also under active investigation at this time and 2) Millian had pitched Papadopoulos to pick up the Trump Tower pursuit when Michael Cohen had dropped it in June.

April 11, 2017: Trump reminds Comey we had that thing

Given the way Trump always coupled his requests for loyalty with comments about Andrew McCabe, I wonder whether, when Trump said “we had that thing,” he doesn’t believe he made a deal with Comey, where Comey could keep McCabe on so long as Comey remained loyal.

Whatever it was, Comey had no inkling.

198 replies
  1. Trip says:

    I know he was uncomfortable, and with good reason, but I would have had to know WTH “That thing” was. It could’ve been Trump just bullshitting that there was some kind of tie that bound them, something Trump perceived as Comey acting in his favor or in collusion with him, or anything else, possibly a set up (like: you know you’re part of this). How could Comey just let that part go?

    I realize the situation was unpresidented, but FFS, Comey had experience with the mob, he had to know there was some signaling going on. How could an investigator, with so many years under his belt, just let that fly without the curiosity killing him? Maybe it was the non-linear style of conversation intended to leave the ground unsteady, but still…I’m sure Trump wasn’t the originator of non-sequitur as a methodology to disrupt the flow, deflect and cause confusion.

    That said, I think the analysis of Comey has been unforgivingly/unsparingly harsh versus the treatment of the daily shitstorm that Trump brings, with the latter given so much editorial benefit of the doubt. Comey is judged by a higher standard, which I understand on one level, but not on the other where Trump always gets graded on a curve (when the standards to assess the president should be equal to, if not higher than that of FBI agents).

    I think Comey made gross judgement miscalculations during the election, but suffered not from those choices, yet instead for being part of an investigation against Trump. He lost everything in one fell swoop, and has been chastised and attacked persistently and relentlessly ever since. Since his ‘injury’ is ongoing, I think it’s difficult to truly reflect and write a more objective perspective about decisions, without some time and distance on all of the events, after some recovery from the damage inflicted on his psyche. That’s not a ‘pass’, but maybe an element of empathy or sympathy since he has been a Trump target.

    We still don’t know what other elements might have influenced his actions, ie: the FBI/Giuliani leaks and disinformation campaign on Fox, which might have created some pressure for him to respond.

      • Trip says:

        And whatever happened to James Woolsey?  Has he made the rounds lately? It seems like he disappeared after talking about the Flynn kidnapping plot (extraordinary rendition) that he witnessed.

    • jayedcoins says:

      Thanks for that post, Trip. I agree with most of it. In a lot of Twitter conversations and the like, I try to point out that this entire situation with Comey contains multitudes… #resisters lionizing him, along with those reminding us he’s a narc, are really just yelling past each other.

      Mostly, I thank Marcy for doing this analysis, especially the middle of Comey Media Bonanza 2018, because it is very difficult to really understand what matters and what doesn’t. This post helps tremendously!

    • BroD says:

      Are you kidding me? Remember: Comey is first and foremost a COP.  He understood completely what Trump was signaling and was perfectly happy to let him assume, with out confirmation, that he was on board.   It’s how you get inside information while keeping your hands clean.

      I agree that Comey has been treated too harshly.

    • orionATL says:

      “…I think the analysis of Comey has been unforgivingly/unsparingly harsh versus the treatment of the daily shitstorm that Trump brings,…”

      so do i.

      this can be partly explained by media’s enjoyment of taking a person who has been placed on a pedestal, by this very same media, down a peg or two.

      it can be partly explained by media hyper-sensitivity to being accused of being unfairly uncritical of a trump opponent by the rightwing propaganda machine.

      particularly annoying to me is the claim that comey is just doing his media rounds to make money. of course he is doing a publicity tour; every author does. his publisher’s contract probably demands it. of course he’ll take the money gladly; every author does.

      but no one could seriously doubt that comey’s main aim is to whack trump on his lying, his immorality, and his unfitness for office. what’s not to like about that!

      but some reporters and editors can’t seem to abide someone publicly criticizing trump who has actually interacted one-on-one with the prez on several documented occasions.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “that thing” may have been something that Trump believed, due to others lying to him about Comey. And Comey already knew what *that thing* really was.

      Scenario: McCabe leaked to Trump what was going on, along with possible BS story and told Trump that Comey was ‘on board’ with the BS story. The BS story also filtered up to Comey. Internal intel discovered the BS story.

      As to Comey decisions, if you get bad intel *internally*, well, bad decisions can result.

      The threatened lawsuit by McCabe, if it happens, could be golden discovery. But because of classification, most would never become public for some time. So it may never happen.


      McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, also said his client told then-FBI Director James Comey that he was pushing back on stories about the Hillary Clinton investigation — which would mean he didn’t lack candor. They are seeking ways to release emails and phone call transcripts between McCabe and Comey to shed light on the issue.

    • JD12 says:

      It’s probably just that Trump thought Comey had agreed to be loyal, or was pretending to thinking he could talk him into it. He’s used to getting what he wants, when he said he wanted “honest loyalty” and Comey didn’t object, he leaves the conversation thinking it means loyalty, while Comey leaves thinking it means honesty. He tried using his own nonexistent loyalty to make Comey think he needed to balance the account.

      • William Bennett says:

        or was pretending to, thinking he could talk him into it.

        Or just assume him into it, then proceed to reward and punish on the basis of that assumption. It’s a small point, but this is a quintessential narcissistic-manipulator move. “We had that thing” strikes a transparently false note–it’s eminently familiar from the lexicon of fakery attested in a thousand movies and sitcoms–but in the moment it slips by without challenge, because in the circumstances how do you do that without derailing the conversation, challenging, creating a conflict etc., and it’s a rare person with that kind of presence of mind. That failure to object is sufficient to count as assent in the logic the narcissist is operating under, and he’s going to assume it into existence, building a whole structure of relationship on that foundation that he is going to impose thenceforward. Whether the manipulator actually believes it is rather moot. “Belief” as such isn’t an operative concept. He can build a virtually-authentic set of responses around it, and I’m pretty sure any inward perception of the essential falsehood is rapidly extinguished. It’s a “fact” to him, because this is what a “fact” is to this type of person. Every relationship they have is built on this same logic, this dominance and submission foundation, and it’s extraordinarily tenacious and difficult for the victim to extricate him- or herself from for a host of reasons.

        And of course it has a diminishing, withering affect on everyone and every project that remains in contact with it. Extrication and utter avoidance, however difficult, is the only strategy for dealing with them; the only other option is submission. It’s the interpersonal dimension of what the hive mind has encapsulated in the ETTD meme.

        The other way to look at it is that it’s meant to be seen as a lie, and thus assenting to it is an act of collusion that is taken as assent to everything that follows. “Collusion,” not as an isolated instance, but as a mode of being.

        Interesting that Putin is also this kind of person. What that says about Trump’s consistently sycophantic behavior toward him would take volumes to unpack. Suffice it to say that that “collusion” has roots that go a helluva lot deeper than the 2016 campaign.

        • JD12 says:

          Yes exactly. One of Trump’s biggest problems is that he doesn’t understand that there actually are limits on presidential power. This happened over the course of a few months, it’s pretty clear he expected Comey to come around. In private business, with him signing the checks it was probably more effective.

          Another possibility is maybe he misread Comey’s actions before the election. He only thinks about himself, he may have assumed since Comey was a Republican he meant to swing the election, and perhaps he said something and that’s what he was referring to. I think if that were the case, though, Comey would at least get the reference.

          Trump’s behavior toward Putin really is strange. The odds of kompromat are better than 50/50. They also share common enemies in Obama and Clinton. Plus Trump values people according to money, he’s probably well aware that Putin is worth tens of billions of dollars and doesn’t care how he got it.

          • Herringbone says:

            I think you and WB have hit it exactly. “That thing” was Trump pretending Comey had offered his loyalty in order to force Comey to act as if he had.

            If you ignore someone’s first refusal, you can turn their subsequent refusals into betrayals.

  2. klynn says:

    Sorry to go OT from the memos. Rudy G joining the Trump legal team to put an end to the Mueller SC.

  3. Kevin Finnerty says:

    I assume the answer to the Flynn FISA warrant question was “no”, if only because Priebus certainly would have had follow up questions if the answer was yes. Instead, the conversation appears to have moved in other directions.

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    My wife got me Comey’s book.

    It’s not bad, and quite interesting. Nothing like what the press is howling about.

    Ahab does not appear, but there is some good tidbits on Rudi…..

  5. twilight14 says:

    In the memos, Trump twice told Comey that he had not spent the night in Moscow in 2013. We now know that’s not true. Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller testified last year to Congress that someone had offered Trump five prostitutes, and that Trump had turned the offer down. Schiller said that he had kept watch outside Trump’s door for a period of time that night – this would have been after the early a.m. afterparty with oligarchs – but then went to bed. Social media and other evidence was reported to show at least two nights spent in Moscow:


    It should be noted that before this trip, where the Agalarovs paid $20 million to host the Miss Universe pageant, Trump tweeted that he hoped to use the opportunity to become Putin’s “new best friend”. Emin Agalarov is also connected, of course, to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

    Why would Trump choose to lie about this if, in fact, the pee tape didn’t exist? Why not just deny the existence of any tape, instead of adding on a gratuitous lie that can now be easily disproven?

    • Dev Null says:

      @all: So if the serving president lies to the serving FBI director, has the serving president thereby committed a felony? This being unambiguously a lie…

      Pretty sure I know the answer (see “Clinton”), but – with apologies to the disputation of lawyers present – I’d be interested in seeing the answer stated explicitly. Not being a lawyer, and all that.

      Am I missing something here? Yeah, Clinton was under oath, but IIRC lying to the FBI is problematic even if not under oath. Surely there’s no special dispensation for POTUS …

      Or is everyone going “lol, wut? what a dumb question, Dev. Everyone knows [what everyone (but Dev) knows]”?

        • Dev Null says:

          Thanks, bmaz.

          The absence of ambiguity in this lie seems striking. Trumpkins can (and do, and will) argue that “obstruction of justice” involves subjective application of legal constructions, but if as stated Trump’s overnight stay in Moscow is in the public record (I’m taking that for granted, as the claim that Trump didn’t stay overnight seems ridiculous on its face), then the only wiggle room between Trump and the commission of a felony (if that’s the phrase) is “it’s Comey’s word against Trump’s”.

          As you suggest, this might not be, hmm, actionable, but I don’t recall other unambiguously provable Trump lies that are also felonies, so there’s that. (Happy to be reminded of other instances.)

      • Soldalinsky says:

        I see mens rea issues here.  The mental element of Trump’s intention to commit a crime is debatable.  I’m not sure Trump even knows he is committing a crime or has criminal intent.  Comey’s credibility isn’t exactly stellar either, and if I remember correctly, he said under oath that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”

        A fundamental principle of criminal law is that a crime consists of both a mental and a physical element.  Mens rea, a person’s awareness of the fact that his or her conduct is criminal, is the mental element, and actus reus, the act itself, is the physical element.  For Trump to be guilty of a crime, he has to act knowingly, purposely, or recklessly and actually commit a crime.

        McCabe leaked and lied about it to cover his tracks.  He knowingly lied about the illegal leaks.  The mental and physical elements are both present in McCabe’s crimes.


    • Dev Null says:

      FWIW, TPM is now front-paging exactly this point:


      There are a host of revelations and confirmations in the Comey memos released yesterday evening. I want to zero in on one point: The President repeatedly and demonstrably lied about his November 2013 trip to Moscow. This is the visit in which the ‘pee tape’ was purportedly recorded. There’s no evidence in the memos that that tape exists or that the President spent the night with prostitutes. But again, he clearly and repeatedly lies about the trip itself, specifically how long he was there. This seems highly significant to me.

      • philadelphialawyer says:

        Couldn’t it be that Trump is just lying about spending the night because, in his feeble mind, that bolsters his claim that there is no urination tape? And that rationale is not dependent upon his claim being false. In other words, there is no tape and never was, because there never were any urinating women in Trump’s room,  and Trump wants to “prove” that negative fact, but it isn’t easy to do so. The best way to prove it would be to have people believe he never even spent the night in Moscow. That way, it doesn’t come down to whether Trump needs prostitutes or not, whether he hired them that particular night, or not, whether other women, who were not prostitutes, were in his hotel room or not, nor whether, if any women were there, they did the deed or not. “I wasn’t even there,” if it were true, or even if people just believed it were true, is much more dispositive, more iron clad.

    • Buford says:

      imho…maybe the pee tape was not of hookers peeing on the bed, but trump himself is filmed peeing on the bed…that would end the “hooker” question…

  6. Erin McJ says:

    Re: the pee tape denial being not about whether the encounter happened but instead about whether they were sex workers. A, realistically he would have no way to know this because if a third party is bringing you prostitutes in order to trap you I assume that third party is paying. But B, is there a clue here as to something that has confused me for months, namely why DT is bothering to deny the Stormy thing? To me it seems on-brand for him to sleep with a young, beautiful blond woman, and I can’t imagine that Melania has any illusions at this point about what sort of man she married… Is the problem that Stormy is in the sex industry?

    • Rayne says:

      I am beginning to wonder if there is a clause or clauses in Trump’s prenup with Melania which specifies damages or a nullification of the prenup  should Trump ever use the services of a sex worker during the course of their marriage. This could explain the firewalling of Trump from Stormy Daniels in the poorly executed hush agreement — the manner of execution allows maximum plausibility of denial. And though not a prostitute per se, Stormy is a sex worker.

      Imagine if there were not only damages attached to a breach under this kind of clause but a release from nondisclosure by nullification of the prenup contract.

      • TheraP says:

        But according to the Playmate, he did attempt to pay her. Which she says she refused. And it was a months long affair he had with her, while only one time with Stormy.

        Trump definitely does tip-toe around this when referring to Melania even “thinking” that about him.

        This is all so bizarre…

      • Frank Probst says:

        Does anyone know much about prenups?  The reason I have trouble with this theory is that Melania was a model from Slovenia.  I would expect her knowledge of prenups to be fairly minimal, and that she would sign pretty much anything put in front of her UNLESS she had an attorney of her own that was negotiating the specifics of the agreement.  I can imagine her peer group–other models and people associated with the modeling industry–telling her to get her own lawyer to look at the document before she signed it, because they all probably know someone who has married and then gotten divorced an older, wealthy man, but the “prostitute clause” just seems weird to me.

        (Please note that I could be totally off base here.  She may have had good representation as a model and was used to having lawyers review any document before she signed it.  I just have no idea of how sharp she was when she married Trump, or how sharp her reps were.  But this seems like an odd clause to have in a prenup to me.  Maybe it’s boilerplate.  I’m bringing it up because I honestly have no idea how these things usually work.)

        • Rayne says:

          You might consider letting go of the notion Melania was a ‘model’ and think of her as a foreign national who came to the U.S. for work.

          Especially considering the people Trump rubbed shoulders with frequently (along with folks like Jeffrey Epstein and Alan Dershowitz and a host of others).

          Considering a broader context and assuming Melania may be smarter or have had better legal representation than her then-prospective spouse, I wouldn’t be surprised such a clause might appear in a prenup. Consider, too, Melania knew her spouse’s history and may have wanted to shield future children by inserting a morality clause of sorts to discourage such behavior.

          But unless their prenup is revealed as part of discovery in a criminal case, I don’t know if we’ll ever know for certain if my conjecture is supported by fact.

          • Frank Probst says:

            I wouldn’t think that “a foreign national who came to the U.S. for work” would know much about prenups, either, but I could be wrong.  I’m assuming there are attorneys who spend a lot (if not all) of their time writing prenups, though, especially in NYC, which is why I’m asking if this is an unusual clause to have in a prenup.

            • Rayne says:

              Still nobody responding to your query, huh? Here’s another possibility: what if at least one of the ex-wives took her aside before the wedding and said, Hey, honey, cover your ass with this clause and here’s why and take this lawyer’s business card. Or perhaps this is the very crux of kompromat: what if Trump really is a massive emotional sucker for Melania and a so-helpful Russian lawyer offered an initial prenup draft with a morality clause because this is the point on which Trump can be played?

              Or perhaps the awfully quiet British TV producer Mark Burnett told both Trump and Melania he expected them to act above board to keep then-extremely popular The Apprentice squeaky clean and a mutual morality clause was a result?

              I don’t know. I can’t explain the weirdness of Trump giving a shit what Melania thinks when he is such a lying dirtbag about everything in his life. A clause in a prenup he can’t escape without damages could explain it, and I can see a number of ways one could have come about.

              EDIT — just dawned on me there’s one other person in his shallow life about whom Trump gives a shit. What if Daddy’s cavorting with hookers is something that really disgusts Ivanka?

              • Frank Probst says:

                I agree with everything you’ve said, but none of it gets to my core question:  Is a “prostitute clause” (or whatever one wants to call it) part of a TYPICAL prenuptial agreement?  I’m not trolling you here.  I honestly don’t know the answer.  It’s not my area of expertise.


                You seem to think that I’m trying to imply that Melania Trump isn’t very bright.  That’s not the case.  Everything I’ve seen suggests that this is a very intelligent woman who is in a situation that she’d rather not be in, but she’s trying to make the best of it.  She is ferociously protective of her son–which is the trait I admire about her most–and is smart enough to hire a slew of lawyers when a newspaper goes after him.  (I haven’t seen anything more than brief mentions of Barron Trump since then, and nobody’s uttered peep about him that could be potentially be seen in a negative light.)  I have no doubt that if she were signing a prenuptial agreement NOW, it would have all kids of morals clauses in it.  I’m trying to gauge (and as you’ve said, we may never know) what she would have likely done at the time she signed the prenup.  I mentioned her career (modeling) not because I think it shows that she’s unintelligent, but because it’s not really connected to the American legal system.  I have two doctorates, but neither one of them relates to law, so my knowledge of prenups is limited to what I’ve seen on television.  I would’ve had a lawyer look at a prenup just based on what I’ve seen on American TV shows, specifically legal dramas like Law & Order.  Melania Trump is from Slovenia and may not have seen all of those shows.  Or maybe Law & Order is the #1 show in Slovenia, and she’s seen every episode.  I don’t know.  And as you’ve noted, it’s entirely possible that someone pulled her aside and told her to hire the best prenup lawyer in NYC.  We’re all just speculating here.  And yes, I realize that asking “What is normal?” is probably a dumb question when you’re talking about Donald Trump.  But if a lawyer is reading this and pipes up and says, “Yes, these kinds of clauses are pretty standard in all of the prenups that I’ve worked on.”, then I’d say that it’s almost certain that Melania got one, and we could all go wild speculating about Donald Trump and sex workers.

                • bmaz says:

                  I don’t practice domestic relations law, but absolutely infidelity clauses are quite common, if not standard. Specifying prostitutes certainly could be included, but is not common as far as I know

              • TheraP says:

                That “Daddy” does “not want to disgust Ivanka” – makes the most sense!

                I recall that Ivanka, at one point, made her dad promise he would not “date” women younger than herself. I assume “date” means sleep with. And Ivanka likely especially doesn’t want “Daddy” sleeping with women who “look like my daughter.”

                Right there is the problem: his incestuous desire for Ivanka.

                If there is any truth to women in Russia being sent to Trump, surely they looked like Ivanka. (And don’t forget, many hotel rooms have doors that could open to the next room. Or the room after that one? The Body Guard may not have been guarding all those doors.)

  7. yogarhythms says:

    Memos, details, sex partners are life’s memorials. Palace’s Rose colored glasses, while providing hue, don’t hold memories. Past behavior allowed for “fixer’s” removal of memorials. Palace’s new address isn’t so convenient. Power is bending reality. SDNY, and SC’s other venues are succumbing to Palace’s powerful onslaught. Saying prayers for non-governmental-initiated court actions.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump expects every lawyer working for him to be another Roy Cohn.

    “Sure, ‘investigate’ me all you want, Jim.  Then bury it the damn desert, unmarked graves out past Terlingua*, along with the Warren Commish stuff.  Amirite?  Like you guys did with J. Edgar’s clothes and his winnings from the mob track at Del Mar.”

    If the Don really wanted to find Roy, he need only ask Jared to show him Union Field in Queens.

    I think your read of Trump’s personality is better each post.  Trump’s emphasis on the pee tape, for example.  Even late night comics have confirmed that the suite in Moscow is big enough to play a World Cup match in.  A germaphobe could watch anything from a distance.

    But the suggestion that Trump would ever need to pay for sex, that’s a crime.  It stabs at the heart of the Don’s insecurity.  (It’s OK if some oligarch pays the prostitutes, but don’t tell the Don.)

    (*Mr. Rate’s still got the shovel.)

    • Trip says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head. In the Billy Bush tape, it’s clear that Trump sees himself as a desirable man full of virility: “They just let you”, as if his advances toward women are all appreciated and welcomed, since he’s such a ‘stah’. A guy who combs-over his hair six ways from Sunday, dyes it, coats his skin in orange glow, lies about his weight and probably height too, is too enmeshed in vanity to admit that he would HAVE TO pay for female attention.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        “They just let you,” as if “they” were mannequins, not women and he was a little boy in a candy store, not an adult.

        “They just let you,” only when you’re an exceptionally obtuse millionaire, narcissistic enough to ignore all the body language that says, “No.”

      • TheraP says:

        Yeah, and it must have really stung when Stormy said publicly that she was definitely not attracted to him. (And it was all a sham from her side, we must conclude. Maybe that’s why he’s so upset and fixated on her.)

    • Avattoir says:

      I’m only aware of 2 “late night comics” who may have gone over and been into the same room since: Colbert and Oliver. Colbert didn’t describe it as ‘big’ so much as “long” – IAE, loads to back off ambient splatter.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Two is plural, non? I assume Colbert meant the room was long – he is a comic – which was long enough even for a germaphobe to back comfortably away from ambient splatter.

        • Avattoir says:

          You could watch on YouTube and judge for yourself – Colbert did a show on it months ago, and just this week mentioned it during Comey’s guesting there – but to me it doesn’t support your assumption of ‘joking’: he said and meant long in the normal sense in which one contrasts that with big in discussing room sizes.

    • JackK says:

      That’s exactly what Trump is doing by repeating the Pence/Flynn cover story multiple times. Flynn lied to the VP, so he had to be fired, but he’s a good guy. What Trump means is: this is the story, get it, and Flynn has is taking one for the team, so let’s go easy on him.

    • KM says:

      But the suggestion that Trump would ever need to pay for sex, that’s a crime.  It stabs at the heart of the Don’s insecurity.

      Yep, exactly.  They might have been paid to sprinkle Obama’s erstwhile bed, but adamantly not to sleep with a guy who could have any woman he wants.  That’s what “there were no prostitutes” means:  they weren’t there to do what prostitutes normally do.

  9. DMM says:

    “The White House had to get rid of Flynn as an effort to squelch the investigation into actions Trump himself had ordered.”

    This is where there’s a hole in the context that would allow pulling the pieces together. What are these actions that Trump ordered [that were the subject of investigation]? Surely it wasn’t merely the directive to Flynn to talk to Kislyak.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      “The White House had to get rid of Flynn as an effort to squelch the investigation into actions Trump himself had ordered.”

      Re-parse that carefully.

      Does not mean the investigations were about Flynn or Kislyak. It could be simple. Flynn was bad at opsec. And he could screw up the investigation(s).

      But the parse to understand, is that there were, and probably still are, investigations into investigations. I.E., there are investigations going on, asking why, some *other* investigations are happening.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Think of it this way. There may be ‘investigations’ going on that really are not about criminal activity, but are actually about obtaining ‘stuff’ to fuck up legitimate investigations.

        Bad guys inside.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          And there may be internal investigations into nefarious (internal or external) investigations that were intended to disrupt legit (internal or external) investigations.

          Who is watching the watchers?

    • bmaz says:

      No. But she did note that Trump, out of pee and hookers, has only denied hookers. And that would likely countenance hookers “he” paid for, not that might have otherwise have been, um, sent his way.

      Does this confirm anything? Nope. but the parsing brings solid questions.

      • big fan says:

        According to Comey’s interviews, Trump also denied pee, just not in the memos. Isn’t that right?

  10. Avattoir says:

    A. “Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?”
    That’s how Comey chose to draft his ex post note on a question he attributes to Priebus.
    The correct answer, AFAI understand, should have been: ‘No’.
    Tho, more completely something like:
    ‘FBI did not seek, nor am I aware of, any other USG agency obtaining a FISA court order that directly authorized surveillance &/or seizure of Flynn’s oral communications.
    ‘However, bear in mind that:
    1) phone conversations generally include words spoken by more than one person. Consider someone, call him Yakker, is named, or his oral communications otherwise covered by a court order authorizing surveillance and/or interception of phone communications. The same order almost certainly would also cover anything said by whoever Yakker talked to.
    ‘2. Court-authorized wiretapping is a form of search warrant. The FISA court is not the only court with power to issue those.’
    Tho, I can understand someone in Comey’s position being concerned something like the latter version might come across a tad prolix.

    B. James Comey, Slayer of the Dragon Gotti

    Not buyin’ it.
    The grands fromages in the Gambino family prosecutions Comey would have been in on (to whatever extent), were EDNY US attorney Andrew Maloney and AUSA John Gleeson.
    Gleeson was the show runner. 2 years later Bill Clinton appointed Gleeson a federal judge.

    Gleeson was 7 years older, graduated law school 5 years earlier, and was hired into EDNY 2 years earlier than Comey was into the SDNY.
    Comey’s Wiki entry reads:
    “He joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he worked from 1987 to 1993. While there, he served as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and helped prosecute the Gambino crime family.”
    That’s it.
    But look at THAT: from raw recruit to DC of the CD of the freaking SDNY in SIX YEARS! That tells me – anyone – either Comey was hired in as a desk warrior, or that path hove into view pretty early.
    I’d have no problem accepting Comey was involved in logistics: coordination of info flow, action plans, budgeting, resource allocation, including doing the intensely unromantic bureaucratic labor involved in coordinating various USa offices & NYPD sections involved in the Gambino project.
    But that’s it.
    Years ago, during & after the 1990-92 case that resulted in Gotti being put away, I read everything out of that case I could lay eyeballs on: pre-trial motions, argument memos, transcripts of the motions plus most if not all the public parts of the trial itself, a few house subject memos, press coverage of course… none mentioned Comey.
    The Gotti conviction drama took place over a period of less than 2 years. Dec 11, 1990, FBIs and NYPDs jointly conducted a raid on a nightclub that resulted in arrests of Gotti, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and one other.
    It was part of a larger project to roll up the Gambino family, particularly Gotti since his acquittal in 1989. Each were charged variously, Gotti with, AOT, 5 mob murders. All 3 were denied bail.
    A big chunk of the pre-trial process in 1991 (the chief reason my professional interest in the case was piqued) involved the motion to disqualify criminal defense attorneys – notably the notorious flamboy Bruce Cutler – from acting for any of them. The government put forward reasons that included not-very-veiled allegations Cutler was effectively a mobster, effectively consiglieri to the Gambino family, a potential witness, or too bound up in the narrative flow of the case against Gotti. That last one stuck as enough to disqualify him. And from all I read and know otherwise, that disqualification brought Sammy the Bull to flip. That motion, how it was supported and executed, how it was ‘won’, was, by far, the my particular source of my interest. Again: I recall no mention of Comey in any of that.

    So, I suggest we not get enamored of the image of a Comey-Gotti staredown, cuz that never happened.

    • Trip says:

      Thanks for that thorough perspective. It alters some of my opinion in re to Comey’s reactions or non-reactions, to a degree.

      @Avattoir, can you see any possible parallels with Giuliani representing Trump, now? He was in deep and promoting propaganda. Could that ‘disqualify’ him from representing Trump?

      • Avattoir says:

        Oh yeah: lots of potential there.

        But note: there’s no suggestion of Rudy going anywhere near a courtroom on this. The implication is that Rudy’s gonna put on that red dress employ his deep personal ties past professional acquaintanceship with Mueller (sure) to end the OSC’s investigation by “negotiations”(eh-yup).

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I agree Giuliani is not there for serious legal work. More likely that is what the Raskins are for.

          I suspect Giuliani is there, first of all, because Trump made an impulse hire. He’s going to be a mouthpiece who can generate headlines as needed, regardless of merit, to distract and confuse. He may also work as a go between for the real attorneys and Trump so that they don’t waste time listening to him explain why he doesn’t trust Filet O’Fishes. He might even provide Trump with strategic advice, or at least try at first before giving up.

          There are obvious risks – is he going to step all over what the real lawyers are doing? Will he shoot his mouth off and upset a judge or undercut the case? How long before he openly contradicts Trump? Does his own dirty laundry emerge and hurt the public campaign? When Trump asks him to do something illegal or that could risk his license, does Giuliani take the risk, or does he fight back?

          In theory he could be an asset, but at this point in his career I would guess he’s a distraction who goes the way of Dowd.

          • TheraP says:

            All that matters, I believe, is that Giuliani rants and raves at Trump’s command. Clearly, Trump is forever demanding that his underlings go out and rant and rave according to his wishes on the TV and airwaves. And I agree that’s probably why Trump “hired” him. (Will he actually get paid?)

            Down and down the rabbit holes we go. To ever stranger “wonderlands.”

        • KM says:

          I’m with Avattoir on this one.  I have no idea if there’s any long-term plan here, but the immediate one seems to be all about the “deep personal ties”.  Hence Rudy’s uncharacteristically smarmy “high regard … for Bob Mueller”, who’s “entitled to do his job”.  

          I think these guys legit feel this has a good chance of working, or at least is their best shot; after all, this is how they themselves roll in their own world.  But I also think that in their bizarroworld logic, this is their gracious and magnanimous offering of the olive branch, led by a former SDNY prosecutor who personally knows and has worked with these people.  So when it (inevitably) gets rebuffed, this will itself be blindingly obvious, public evidence before the entire world of bad faith and devious motivation on the part of Teams Mueller and SDNY.

          • bmaz says:

            Eh, by all accounts I’ve seen, and inspite of his ability to be beyond abrasive, John Dowd had a good working relationship with the Mueller shop. They knew each other too. I bet that is part of why he walked away. Does Rudy carry that much more weight, especially as a “feared” criminal defense attorney? No. Not even close. This is more PR stuntery.

            • JAAG says:

              I’m interested if you think there is a conflict, or the appearance of one, sufficient to make Rudy withdrawal an issue.

              • bmaz says:

                Certainly the appearance of one. As I have said previously, if the Trumpies think Rod Rosenstein has a conflict, then they ought think hard about Rudy, who has far more of the appearance of one.

            • Avattoir says:

              bmaz and other attorneys here would know the type well, but Rudy hasn’t been a real live practicing lawyer for a long, long time, and ever since “September the eleventh two thousand and one” post-mayor job, he’s been purporting to earn his ridiculous partner draws based on business promotion.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Rudi is probably there to hold the Don’s hand and explain to him what those mean people at SDNY are doing.  And to keep him from blowing a gasket while SDNY goes over Cohen’s life with a fine toothed comb.  He’s not gonna get anywhere with Mueller and everybody but the Don knows it.  I agree that not having been in a courtroom for  three decades, it would be foolish for Rudi to go back into one now.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Re-parsing your comment

      “The correct answer, AFAI understand, should have been: ‘No’.
      Tho, more completely something like:
      ‘FBI did not seek, nor am I aware of, any other USG agency obtaining a FISA court order that directly authorized surveillance &/or seizure of Flynn’s oral communications.”

      [Your expanded answer is logically quite sound. What if the FISA warrant was not obtained by FBI, but by NSA? Comey may really have not known. He may have suspected due to other ‘stuff’, but could not affirmatively say it was the ‘true answer’]

      [We still do not know for sure that the 12333 info sharing is actually functioning effectively]

  11. Phil says:

    The remark about Flynn’s judgment seems to me about more than failing to tell him Putin had called. Fingers to head indicating that Flynn has a hole in his head? Seems like there’s more behind it, like: maybe Trump knew about the kidnapping conspiracy?

  12. TheraP says:

    No comment, even from EW, on Trump’s judgement re his VP? (At least based on Comey’s memos.) Clearly Trump’s not impressed with Pence’s intelligence or judgment, already from the get-go of the Inauguration.

    He’s gonna get blamed for stuff that happened during the Transition is my bet. When Trump is confronted about some of those transition events, he’ll throw Pence to the wolves. Among others.

  13. Dev Null says:

    On the general theme of “who posted Comey’s memos”, Jonathan Bernstein has an interesting theory here:


    Everyone is assuming that in doing this, the House radicals are seeking to protect Trump. But it’s very possible that they are seeking a Saturday Night Massacre type event for their own reasons. How did the release of the Comey memos help Trump, for instance? They certainly burnished the reputation of Nunes to the strong conservatives who might help him overcome a surprisingly competitive re-election campaign — both through national fundraising and district support:

    [quote]Statement from Chairman Goodlatte, Chairman Gowdy, and me on the Comey memos: https://t.co/rfmvM1JoyX

    — Devin Nunes (@DevinNunes) April 20, 2018[/quote]

    It’s hard to tell the difference between protecting Trump and pushing him towards a potentially grave confrontation for other reasons. But if what many House Republicans are doing is playing the True Conservative game, then we should expect them to seek out procedural maneuvers that will split the House Republican conference. If we think about it that way, then goading Trump into taking acts that would force an impeachment confrontation makes a lot of sense, at least in terms of achieving their goals.

    • jayedcoins says:

      I understand the impeachment angle. A long-expected outcome in some liberal minds has been that Trump’s incompetence would be accepted and his presidency would be used as much as possible (see the tax cut) until such a time in 2018 when it became more politically valuable to appear “principled” and turn on him (cue Pence/Haley). I’m not necessarily sure I fully agree with it either way, but it squares with JB’s article.

      What I’m dense on here is, the idea that the release of these memos has “burnished” the reputation of Nunes. I fully admit that it is impossible to read these without my own priors, which are heavily anti-“anything right of the media congressional Democrat,” but I still can’t see how this makes Nunes look good. It just reeks of spin. Not that I should be surprised. Though, Gowdy’s attempts at having it both ways are odd as hell.

      • KM says:

        A long-expected outcome in some liberal minds has been that Trump’s incompetence would be accepted and his presidency would be used as much as possible (see the tax cut) until such a time in 2018 when it became more politically valuable to appear “principled” and turn on him (cue Pence/Haley).

        Only the Republican response to Trump’s first actual legislative “achievement” appears to have been the exact opposite.

      • Dev Null says:

        @Jayedcoins: I think JB’s point rests on who Nunes wants to appeal to.

        I don’t know much about Nunes’ district, other than it’s a deep red CA district, but needless to say conservative Republicans these days are all about appealing to the base. Not entirely unintuitive that Nunes would appeal to his district as The Last True Trumpkin™ in the run-up to the midterms.

        I thought the more interesting point was that House conservatives might seek to trigger an impeachment for their own purposes (meaning “not to get ride of Trump, but to increase their own power in the GOP caucus”). That hadn’t hadn’t occurred to me (even though it probably should have).

        Josh Barro makes a somewhat similar point at BI to the effect that for House “mainstream” conservatives (ie far-right but not foaming-at-the-mouth right) the one midterm result worse than losing the House in the midterms would be retaining control of the House by a few votes … because no Republican would want to become Speaker. The House would be even more ungovernable:


        • jeer9 says:

          Nunes’ district (adjacent to mine) is +11 R and he is currently up only 5 over the most popular Dem candidate who is not terribly swift when it comes to current events: he is a former prosecutor whose two most important issues are the death penalty (more, please) and protecting the 2nd Amendment. The wave will have to be tsunami-like to defeat the Valley’s favorite obstructionist.

          • Dev Null says:

            @jeer9: If I’m reading correctly Cook rated PA-18 as R+11.

            I know nothing about anything, but does the +5 factor in enthusiasm? IIRC polling had Lamb behind by more than the MoE until shortly before the election.

            Lots of water still to flow under this particular bridge…

            As you no doubt know, Lamb is a 2nd Amendment guy.

            Not entirely relevant, but as Churchill said in reference to Stalin:

            “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

      • Rayne says:

        Nothing will burnish Nunes’ reputation at this point; it’d be like rolling fresh scat in glitter. It’s possible the release of these memos is meant to do just the opposite, reveal Nunes for being manipulative, corrupt and in on the conspiracy without actively pantsing him in front of donors, thereby exposing other GOP members to certain donors’ wrath.

        As for Gowdy: I think he is prospecting for future employment after December 2018 but not in the political arena; he has to continue to walk a fine line between exposing the truth and keeping corporate employers happy. Not surprised he’s tried “having it both ways.”

        • Dev Null says:

          @Rayne: Gowdy, who knows? Lots of speculation as to what his motives are (seeing that he’s not seeking re-election, as you allude to); no one seems sure. Heck, Gowdy might have the self-awareness to realize that Comey’s memos don’t help Trump, and concur in their release for exactly that reason. Gowdy did a fair amount of damage to Nunes’ memo a few months ago IIRC.

          As for Nunes, I mean no disrespect in suggesting that you might be looking at this from an angle very different from Nunes’.

          Nunes (among other objectives) (presumably) wants to be re-elected. To accomplish that goal he will need a majority of his (voting) constituents pulling the lever next to his name.

          His district leaning deep red, the calculation might be wrong, but it isn’t an insane calculation that the way to get his constituents to vote for him in November is to convince his constituents that he’s even more all-in for Trump than anyone can possibly imagine.

          Rather than “burnish his reputation”, think “polish his Trump Squad superhero shield”. Or whatever metaphor appeals.

          Saying that Nunes is not trying to impress any of us here; he is laying the groundwork for re-election in the midterms.

          Personally ($3.45 and my opinion etc) I think Nunes pantsed himself.

          • Rayne says:

            IMO, Nunes is relying on re-election for two reasons: it’s more profitable to be inside “the family” than on the outside on his own, and he’s protected by Speech-and-Debate Clause as long as he’s in Congress. Had anybody else done what he’s done with investigation resources, they’d be a target or a subject already — but Speech-and-Debate is his Pass Go Collect $200 card.

            • Dev Null says:

              @Rayne: I read somewhere that there are limitations on the Speech and Debate Clause, but IANAL, so pay no attention to me. I don’t remember the source nor do I know whether the source was qualified to opine on the topic. I’ll assume you’re right and this other person wrong. (Although I imagine that the House could vote to refuse to seat Nunes given sufficiently damning evidence. Or to expel him should he already be seated.)

              That said, I’m thinking you’re right about Nunes needing to be re-elected. Again, NAL, but I could imagine that if Trump and Pence are taken down following a landslide wave election following evidence of treason (be still, my beating heart!), Nunes could be in for a difficult few years absent Speech-and-Debate Protections.

              Oops, sorry, I meant “treason” in the most vernacular possible way, to wit: conspiracy to defraud the US, as I think you and bmaz and the rest of the disputation said.

            • orionATL says:

              you can get to nunes, i am quite confident, but no reporter has put the time in to do the digging. to do so one must investigate in detail why he has been so solicitous of trump’s legal welfare. there is something very fishy about that.

              i would bet good money on some well-rewarded connection between nunes and russia (no, not bottles of wine), or maybe the bannon/mercer thugs, or the koch octopus.

              there are 200+:republican congresscritters. lots of them are rightwing trump-lemmings. nunes is a partisan, not an ideologist. here is one winger’s very enlightening view of nunes:


  14. Dev Null says:

    Via Erik Wemple and Greg Sargent, Rachel Maddow’s interview with Comey last night (April 19th) elicited this Comey statement:

    I commissioned an investigation to see if we could understand whether people were disclosing information out of the New York office or any other place that resulted in Rudy’s report on Fox News and other leaks that we were seeing in the media.

    I don’t know what the result of that was. I got fired before it was finished, but I know that I asked that it be investigated.

    Has anything been reported out from this investigation? Was this the same investigation that got McCabe fired? Or were there two separate IG investigations?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Key hint in Comey statement:

      ‘Or any other place’
      (SDNY may have leak problem, but it is not the only location)


      Where McCabe and Rudy Meet

      The Rudy Giuliani and Andrew McCabe situations intersect. Buried in the IG Report on McCabe is reference to Loretta Lynch ripping the NYPD over leaks about the Eric Garner police death case and the Clinton investigation. In particular, she was upset with stories involving the NYPD’s discovery of hundreds of thousands of emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer.

      This rang a bell for internet investigator Tracy Beanz. She remembered that Blackwater founder Eric Prince had been on Breitbart News days before the election with a crazy story. The NYPD had found a mess of emails implicating Hillary in assorted criminal activity on Weiner’s computer. They had been screaming at the FBI to do something. As we now know, McCabe sat on the emails for a month before informing Comey. The NYPD had threatened to go public. That is until Loretta Lynch called and threatened the NYPD, saying she would have the Civil Rights Division bring charges against an NYPD officer in the Gardner death if they said a word.

      As Beanz notes in her fascinating thread, the IG report tracks with what Prince’s source had claimed. It brought Lynch, NYPD, Weiner’s laptop and Eric Gardner into one phone call.

      That phone call, according to the IG report was October 26, 2016. That very same day, Rudy was all over the media, hinting some “big surprises” were about to drop.

      Two days later, Comey revealed the Weiner discovery and reopened the Hillary Clinton email investigation. However, nothing beyond the cache of State Department emails was mentioned.

      It’s fair to assume Rudy’s NYPD pals filled him in on what was on the computer.

      If you believe this McCabe story starts and ends with leaks to the Wall Street Journal or Mueller ends with Trump tangled with Russia, you are in for a very long spring.

      • bmaz says:

        internet investigator Tracy Beanz”??

        Come on man, you are just spoofing people now. Gonna need a salt mine to swallow this bunk with.

        • Dev Null says:

          Hey, with a name like that she’s gotta be for real, amirite?!? She wouldn’t dare make up a name like that; people would never believe her!

          er, – snark –

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          No, did not look into the Prince and NYPD stuff.

          That was not the point. The point is that leaks may have been coordinated between DC and SDNY, which is what Comey alluded to IMO.

          The NYPD maybe almost messed up an internal investigation.

          I think there is still a leak problem at SDNY even if McCabe not available on the DC end.

      • JD12 says:

        The story Prince told to Breitbart was a blatant fabrication. Look at the details he gives, it’s insane. If anything he said is true it’s just a coincidence. The media had 4 days to look into it and nobody confirmed any of it.

    • Desider says:

      Uh, Comey was around for 4, 5 months after he got rolled by NY agents on Wiener’s laptop. He’s telling us in that time he didn’t get *any* useful intel on what happened? And shouldn’t he have been super-pissed to force the issue open? Doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

      • Desider says:

        “I don’t know what the result of that was. I got fired before it was finished, but I know that I asked that it be investigated.” – he was heading the FBI for 6 months after that, and gives an “aw shucks, guess they didn’t find anything…” copout. Heads should have rolled, fast timelines and interviews should have been demanded. The guy who’s supposedly worried about the reputation and integrity of the FBI, and he doesn’t do fuckall about this outrage?

  15. dc says:

    Does anyone else think this was dumped by the anti-Trump forces?  The MO of the Nunes crowd is to selectively leak, so it seems that strategy was undermined.  Overall, the whole document is a net negative for Trump, at least with respect to putting out a lot more kernels of damage than we had before the release….

    • Trip says:

      Definitely not. Here’s their game plan, make a YUGE deal of the “classification”. Meanwhile, Trump leaked highly classified intelligence to the Kremlin:

      Of those two memos, Mr. Comey himself redacted elements of one that he knew to be classified to protect secrets before he handed the documents over to his friend. He determined at the time that another memo contained no classified information, but after he left the Federal Bureau of Investigation, bureau officials upgraded it to “confidential,” the lowest level of classification.
      The Justice Department inspector general is now conducting an investigation into classification issues related to the Comey memos, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Comey has said he considered the memos personal rather than government documents. He has told Congress that he wrote them and authorized their release to the media “as a private citizen.”

  16. SteveB says:

    Re who leaked Comey memos and why

    Jeremy Stahl at Slate argues that the leak of the memos was a hamfisted attempt to bolster the lie/line that Comey had leaked classified information ( namely his own memos, some of which were classified, some of which weren’t)

    Stahl’s take which outlines how a feedback loop of the WH FoxNews and Congressional Republicans fall overthemselves constructing and bolstering a dodgy narrative to smear Comey, seems to me to be a plausible admixture of cock-up and conspiracy  theorist.

    • aubrey mcfate says:

      I think they just needed a “fact”, an event, to pin a bunch of lies on — i.e., it’s an indisputable fact that Congress has now obtained the Comey memos. What those memos actually say is…more subjective.

      • Trip says:

        That’s the essence of propaganda. Take one Tsp of fact and then combine with BS. Mix and distribute evenly and widely.

  17. KM says:

    He determined at the time that another memo contained no classified information, but after he left the Federal Bureau of Investigation, bureau officials upgraded it to “confidential,” the lowest level of classification.

    Why not?  Retroactive assertions are all the rage these days, after all.  Quite the magic wand.  Telecom immunity, executive privilege, classification status….

     [Response to Trip….]

    • Dev Null says:

      HRC was hoist on the retroactively classified emails petard, wasn’t she?

      Among many other things, of course.

        • Dev Null says:

          @KM: yep, it’s 1984 all over again.

          In like manner, (as everyone knows) all FBI directors since the beginning of time (or at least the beginning of the FBI) have been Republicans, because the GOP is the party of law and order, because of course it is.

          And Special Counsels / Investigators / Whatever must be Republicans to investigate Dems, to avoid the appearance of unfairness; whereas only Republicans should investigate Republicans, to avoid the appearance of unfairness.

          Which you might imagine would be inconvenient should an FBI director and Special Counsel create difficulties for a Republican president.

          But of course you would be wrong in so imagining … Comey and Mueller might call themselves Republicans, but really, they’re RINOs … their TRUE party affiliation is DEEP STATE. (This is intended as sarcasm, should there be any doubt.)

          I cannot see how Republicans demonizing the FBI plays to the long-term benefit of the GOP … working against brand confuses the clientele.

          • KM says:

            Can’t argue with any of that.

            Except maybe the demonising the FBI part.

            Blaming CIA for Iraq intel (despite separate OVP intel shop and Bolton/Feith cell in WINPAC) somehow seemed to work out pretty OK for them.


            Comey:  fired for treating Hillary unfairly.

            Rosenstein:  should be fired for writing letter justifying firing Comey and not recusing himself from investigation as a result.

            McCabe:  fired and criminally referred for lying about leaking to press to justify ongoing investigations of Hillary campaign.

            This is how these guys roll.  Projection, plus bootstrapping, plus citing the very crimes they benefited from to justify attacking the actors who at one point helped them immeasurably.

            • Dev Null says:

              @KM: Agreed, it’s how they roll…

              … but this is all tactical.

              Will it work as strategy? which is what branding / marketing is about.

              Strategy being long-term, and all that.

              Confusing the clientele is anti-strategy … or so it seems to me, anyway.

              • KM says:

                Hey Dev Null,

                I agree in part with the tactics vs. strategy point.  Karl Rove was the master of the news cycle.  Problem was, people’s attention-span doesn’t track the news cycle exactly.  To wit:  Katrina, or Iraq, long-term.

                About confusing the clientele:  I really don’t know.  My point was that these guys have gotten away for years with attacking their own, with treating other Republicans and even members of the administration as effectively traitors within and fifth columnists.  This pattern has been so widespread for so long that it has become part of the popular expectation.  Hence:  Colin Powell, the entire State Dept, the CIA, Tenet; these days it’s the FBI, Rex Tillerson, State (again), EPA civil servants, McMaster, Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe, what you will.  This is a long-standing pattern, and I think the base has not only become inured to it but participates actively and enthusiastically in the demonisation once the enemy within has been decided on.

                • SpaceLifeForm says:

                  It’s easier to look at it this way:

                  The ‘base’ has been so brainwashed by Fox,
                  they are just fucking insane.

                  Their brains no longer function, they can not do any critical analysis, they don’t know what to think.

                  So, they watch fox. A feedback loop to reinforce their already brainwashed thinking.

                  The ‘Big Lie’ is working fine.

                  If you know someone that is addicted to Fox,
                  you already know they are insane.

                  You can’t even converse with them.

                  Do you know anyone that is hooked on FOXy women?

                • Greenhouse says:

                  KM, I couldn’t have said it better.  Arguably, this is the GOP brand. The base (i.e. “confused”) have been and will continue to be confused, just so long as there’s a meme that will allow them to be led.

                • Dev Null says:

                  @KM: I was thinking long long-term. For example, there are claims that millennials are turning away from evangelism / fundamentalism in a big way because of perceived hypocrisy, some of which is related to Trump, some to racism (immigration), some to abortion.

                  This won’t make (much of) a difference in the 2018 midterms or in the 2020 election, but in the longer long-term the impact will be YUUUGE as today’s oldest cohort dies off.

                  In a similar way, what Josh Marshall calls the GOP’s nonsense debt will have to be paid one way or another (unless WWIII renders the GOP’s nonsense debt, the GOP, and all the rest of us … cinders.)

                  To some extent the GOP is already beginning to pay that nonsense debt, as witness that delicate North Dakota farmer snowflake whining to the paper of record about his sorghum crop and the PERSONAL COST TO HIM of Trump’s tariffs. (More or less: if Trump doesn’t fix this because ME! Trump may not get my vote in 2020. Glad you’re figuring that out, sweetheart. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out…)

                  In other areas, the GOP CUT CUT CUT Act is unsurprisingly failing to impress even as Paul Ryan wants to go back for a second round of billionaire tax cuts. If the deficit bloats as rapidly as the CBO thinks it will, the nation is in for some serious back-filling, either by rescinding the billionaire tax cuts or by cutting SS, Medicare, and Medicaid. There’s already talk of cutting SNAP, which feeds a lot of seniors as well as kids… I’m sure that will go over well with Trump-voting seniors and their children.

                  One corollary to “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it” is …

                  … it is not difficult to understand something when one’s salary depends on understanding it.

                  Attacking Republican leadership at the FBI and DoJ is more of the GOP’s nonsense debt.

                  I’m bloviating, sorry.

                  My point is that the law-and-order party can’t attack law-and-order indefinitely without paying a price.

                  The other point I think relevant is that we’re kinda-sorta razor-edge divided. The GOP has had to gerrymander wildly, steal a SCOTUS seat, run out and out racist campaigns, run vicious voter disenfranchisment scams …

                  … all just to stay competitive in elections which themselves are stacked by the edge the Founders gave to “virtuous” rural farmers.

                  In a way the situation generally is a lot like gerrymandering specifically: Republicans have diluted their strong districts to minimize the number of Dem voters … which works very well until there’s a wave election, when beaucoup of those diluted purplish-red districts go blue – many more than would have fallen in the absence of gerrymandering. (Making the well-known but not obvious point that gerrymandering is a double-edged sword.)

                  Long story a little longer: the GOP is desperate for voters. Right now they’re dependent on the 27% lunatic fringe (“the base”) and what appears to be a rather smaller fraction comprising “Establishment” voters (also “the base”). The nonsense debt doesn’t have to drive away that many “Establishment” voters to crater the GOP.

                  As has been pointed out in several venues, Republican support for Trump has been remarkably steady. It is somewhat less often noted that the fraction of the electorate that self-identifies as Republican has been shrinking. (I saw numbers quoted over at No More Mr. Nice Blog in comments … remarkable if true.)

                  That’s what I meant by “tactics vs. strategy” … things go on until they can’t … which is to say, until the internal contradictions of nonsense have tangible consequences.

                  Apologies to all for the length of this post.

                  • Dev Null says:

                    Typo alert: I wrote

                    Republicans have diluted their strong districts to minimize the number of Dem voters …

                    s/voters/elected representatives, as SLF would say.

                    For irregular expression peeps, that’s:

                    Republicans have diluted their strong districts to minimize the number of Dem elected representatives.

                    Alternatively, “to minimize the number of safe-Dem districts”.

                  • TheraP says:

                    Don’t apologize. It was a great survey rant. I enjoyed reading it. And I doubt I am the only one who did.,

                  • orionATL says:

                    dev null –

                    this is good stuff. very useful info. i hadn’t thought of republican gerrymandering as diluting their strongest districts leaving them vulnerable to wave elections.


                    • Dev Null says:

                      @orionATL: happy to be the conduit. I’m don’t remember where I saw this ‘splained … perhaps Vox, perhaps Sam Wang, perhaps Daily Kos. If I find the link (I stashed it in my midden heap, the problem is indexing) I’ll post it.

                      That gerrymanders can bite the gerrymander-ers was news to me too.

          • aubrey mcfate says:

            They’re not “demonizing” the FBI. They’re breaking it to their will. They’re setting precedents for its use as a political implement in the future. The commenter below who makes the analogy to the CIA in the Iraq War conspiracy is exactly right.

            • bmaz says:

              Actually, they  ARE demonizing the FBI and it is showing up in trial courts everywhere. Not that they FBI hasn’t had real problems over the years, including significantly their supposedly vaunted crime lab, but these political attacks are garbage. And they are starting to stick to the field agents reputations and ability to testify. They should be questioned on their own actions, not degraded by this horse manure. But if you think that is not exactly what is happening across the board, you don’t spend much time actually involved in criminal law.

              • Dev Null says:

                @bmaz: could you give instances for us non-attys?

                I see the Big Picture Demonization. I’m not aware of attacks on field agents, because (being not-a-lawyer) I don’t have access to that level of granularity.

                In fact I have no idea how I would get access to that level of granularity even if I wanted it.


                • bmaz says:

                  Just things I hear in court talking to other attorneys and that I see reported in criminal defense forums. I think it is no more effective of an attack factually today than it ever was, but next time I am in such a position, I will throw it out too. In a heartbeat. Why wouldn’t you.

                  As far as something you can go read about on the net, look at Ryan Reilly and Huffington Post’s coverage of the extremist trial that just concluded in Wichita. There, the defense didn’t even wait for federal agents to take the stand to start the attack, they made the argument in jury voir dire that the defense was entitled to Trump supporters as jurors because the government is dirty otherwise.

                  • Dev Null says:

                    Apologies for my lack of understanding, but … what does this mean?

                    I think it is no more effective of an attack factually today than it ever was, but next time I am in such a position, I will throw it out too. In a heartbeat. Why wouldn’t you.

                    I understand each word in isolation, but I don’t understand the sentences. eg “I will throw it out” and “Why wouldn’t you”.

                    Throw what out? Why wouldn’t I what?

                    re Ryan Reilly & HuffPo: thanks for the pointers!

                    In re Wichita, what’s your take on the Bundy mistrial in Oregon?

                    If it’s true that the Feds screwed up big-time, as the reports I’ve read suggest, then that would (potentially) feed an anti-FBI narrative, no? (Or at least anti-Fed…)

                    Is there more to the Oregon story than incompetence and a cover-up? (that being the media story)

                    • bmaz says:

                      That the FBI is fundamentally corrupt and untrustworthy. (They are not).To what extent and how that would be conveyed would depend on the particular composition of the jury that day.

            • Dev Null says:

              @aubrey m: why do you say “not demonizing”?

              It’s not an either / or choice, eh?

              (Srsly, I’m curious; I don’t grok the point you [think you] are making.)

    • orionATL says:

      this is an excellent set of comments by km , dev null, and others.

      very informative and thoughtful.


  18. Avattoir says:

    California’s fightin’ 22nd isn’t Trump Country. It’s hard-hat ag, on the farmin’ side of the Central Valley Water Wars, field crops, garlic & taters, 4H and Hispanic cowboys, highly turf-protective & territorial.
    But in 2013 it was redistricted & old patterns are shifting.
    It’s still rural con, which since Obama has meant R. But it’s unclear where it is now in terms of demo and perspective identification. What once was heavily dominated by multi-generational broadly European urban-resenting very rural Tulare (Nixon/Reagan voters), with a minority around more purpley faster growing Fresno – the split largely responsible for Nunes first getting elected to Congress, his family’s farming ops being very big in & around Tulare – redistricting means it’s headed elsewhere in terms of demographic id. The question being, will that matter all that much in the morph, i.e. does it, say, make a pit-stop in Yugely Bigly before it ends up where-ever?
    Because what was once far more Tulare, Buck Owens & some Merle Haggard, increasingly is headed way more towards Fresno, ranchero, son, & even Norteno (I liked Merle, but really: this is for the best).
    What Nunes has been doing in The Nation’s Capital since 2015 is partly he’s a bit nuts (in that country roads conspiracy theory way), and partly because with the 22nd now, per both lawyering and polysighing, ya places yer bets and ya takes yer chances.
    His D opponent is an Asian-ethnic Visalia-born Fresno-based D.A., a throw-back Dem to dad in the Peace Corp and Panetta sponsorship, working the rural perception of crime waves and more constructively the practical complexities side of Water Wars, who likes pointing out Devin hasn’t done a town hall since before the redistricting.

    • Dev Null says:

      @Avattoir: thanks for the read on the 22nd. I suspect Nunes is betting the only way he knows how to bet: dash to the right. I don’t think it’s an insane bet.

      And while I haven’t contributed to the Dem yet, I will.

    • orionATL says:

      i spent some months in fresno learning from fresno state’ ag profs. in general, the area was rural and farm-oriented in a most pleasing, laid back way.

      there was (or seemed to be) a substantial japanese-american population, perhaps because fresno was one of the centers of the internment of japanese-americans order by the f. roosevelt administration at the onset of wwII.

      it was a hot, blue-sky, dry-wind desert (to an easterner) where farming seemed dependent on irrigation. i can imagine water and water rights are still a key issue – more so since the great california drought.

  19. Avattoir says:

    Dev Null, if November is a wave, Nunes could be in real trouble in the 22nd. I really think part of his sordid embracery of Trump has to do with his concern for post mid-terms employment. Note that the 22nd, and Nunes as well, whether before or after redistricting, have NEVER (or never before) wanted to be seen in the same caucus as the Free Dumbers. The Tulare/Visalia/east Fresno corridor is very big into farm subsidies, no matter where they can be gotten.

    Unrelated point of privilege here: I’m having a small sad no one’s picked up on my Rudy’s ‘puttin’ on that red dress’ ref:
    – Mel Tillis’ “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town”
    – The Police’ “Roxanne”
    – Rudy’s penchant for dressing in drag
    – that time Rudy & Trump attempted comedy with Trump impliedly going grabby on Rudy in a fetching mauve number
    – Rudy’s risk of being caught red-handed complicit in either or both the Weiner laptop or Clinton Fdn October surprises
    – Rudy as 99.9% combo self-promoter / survivor, some fraction of 00.1% attorney

    • Dev Null says:


      if November is a wave, Nunes could be in real trouble in the 22nd.


      I really think part of his sordid embracery of Trump has to do with his concern for post mid-terms employment.

      I dunno, Avattoir… that wouldn’t explain his role on Trump’s transition team, nor his transition from meek mild-mannered milquetoast Republican, would it? Adam Schiff said “Nunes and I worked well together until Trump converted him into a zombie” … or something like that, anyway. I might not have the quote precisely word-for-word. And until Virginia returns and Conor Lamb’s win, hoocoodanode that deep red districts were at risk? Or even purplish-red districts?

      Note that the 22nd, and Nunes as well, whether before or after redistricting, have NEVER (or never before) wanted to be seen in the same caucus as the Free Dumbers. The Tulare/Visalia/east Fresno corridor is very big into farm subsidies, no matter where they can be gotten.

      No acquaintance with rural CA districts … don’t know enough to have an opinion.

      Unrelated point of privilege here: I’m having a small sad no one’s picked up on my Rudy’s ‘puttin’ on that red dress’ ref:

      Er, speaking only for myself, I got at least part of the reference [Avattoir: riiiggghhhht, sure you did, Dev…], and since I am almost certainly the least hip person here, I daresay everyone else did as well.

      The problem is, how to respond? This alternate reality has gone whack. Things that should be rolling on the floor funny are, uh, normal.

      But since you’ve queued up a PoP, let me respond to a different ref: “polyfishing”, what is that?!? Teh Great Goog was uncharacteristically unhelpful. And as long as I’m helping to ameliorate your sad, us non-lawyer peeps didn’t get “embracery”. I looked up the word because I thought you were attempting a pun. No (needless to say), it really is its own word.

      • TheraP says:

        I beg to place myself lower on the “hipness” scale.

        I’ve always aspired to be an eccentric old lady, but hipness was never on my radar screen.

        • Dev Null says:


          I aspire to be old. And I might make it. :-)

          Although I tell you, it isn’t nearly as comfortable as being young.

          But I guess you know that.

          Eccentric, well … I think we all have eccentric nailed already. :-)

    • orionATL says:

      jeezus, rudy’s a drag queen? j. edgar’s 21st century doppelganger?

      is that why he and his third missus (am i counting rite) are parting ways now?

    • Trip says:

      @Avattoir– Rudy as 99.9% combo self-promoter / survivor, some fraction of 00.1% attorney

      Yep, Mr 9/11, a trip back in the time machine:

      America’s Mayor?  The FFs (IAFF) came out strong against his run for presidency:

      [Giuliani] wasn’t a hero on 9/11. He was a failure on 9/11,” Riches said.
      “On the body of my dead son, he’s running for President.”
      Riches’ group, 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims, claims faulty radios and a lack of communication between firefighters and police officers prevented responders from escaping from the buildings when they were about to fall. It also charges that Giuliani’s statements about air quality at the site allowed workers there to get sick.

      Giuliani Gets Exposed As Fraud by Firefighters

  20. dcom says:

    I presume Rosenstein was resistant to release the Comey memos for a reason. I wonder what additional info was revealed that caused him to be so? Doesn’t seem like much, but what am i missing?

  21. Avattoir says:

    dcom, comey has called Rosenstein “a survivor”. So, he’s surviving. It APPEARS he’s pretty darned good at doing that. All Things Considered, he’s looking like the current master amidst disaster at it. So, I’m not inclined to fine grain some eleventy dimension chess as to his initial effort at Resistance. It could well be ‘just’ that he’s just far better than Comey, or anyone else maybe, at deploying firewalls. That’s not nothing! If so, then that’s pretty impressive palace political skill. I’m actually thinking now of checking my old notes on the Bible for this sort of game, Machiavelli’s “The Prince”.

    • Dev Null says:

      @dcom, @Avattoir: this could be one of the reasons that Rosenstein is a survivor:


      Another person familiar with the exchange said Sessions did not intend to threaten the White House but rather wanted to convey the untenable position that Rosenstein’s firing would put him in.

      “The gob, she is smacked.”

      • Avattoir says:

        Kinda looks like Rosenstein somehow found it in him to project empathy with Sessions’ plight as a favorite target of presidential scorn, so – they’ve made Common Cause, maybe?

        • Dev Null says:

          I like to imagine Rosenstein re-purposing the immortal words of Firesign Theater:

          You’re a white man, Jeffrey Beauregard. Whaddaya think we oughta do?

          (No need to have a sad over non-recognition of Common Cause. I am here to make you happy. ~snark~ )

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Even Jeffy would know that the White House could only see his rare two-legged stance as a threat posture.  He knows there is much more to come out and wants no part of it – which would suggest it is particularly noisome.  Or he’s decided that he is on the chopping block.  Either way, he is encouraging his GOP brethren in the Senate to pull their collective nose out of the trough and pay attention to what’s coming down.

  22. JD12 says:

    We don’t know who leaked that Trump got briefed on the memo, and I don’t rule out CIA leaking it.

    It was probably Brennan. He took credit for starting the Russia investigation and had the biggest role before leaving that January. He did everything in his power to pressure the White House to respond, as well as the FBI and Congress. There’s no doubt he turned to leaking after the election, and probably before it, he was heavily invested in the case and he was frustrated. It was also reported that he had a personal obsession with taking out Assad and knew if Trump won he would be out of the job.

  23. Kris says:

    If Trump wasn’t such an obvious crook and so deeply compromised, no one would be talking up Comey’s poor treatment. Comey, by his own admission clearly made political decisions in the Clinton email investigation and ended up tampering with a presidential election. It is remarkable that people are willing to overlook this, and in addition provide some pablum about rogue FBI agents as a fig leaf to justify his actions. It is remarkable, for example, that he didn’t see fit to say anything about the investigations against Trump during the campaign- one explanation could be that he didn’t take Trump’s candidature seriously and so was focused on constricting a future President Clinton’s freedom of action, by making such a huge public fuss about an ultimately groundless investigation. This  in itself is telling, in that one of the top law enforcement officials chose to make a fuss about an investigation that he knew wasn’t amounting to anything.

    Trump’s main mistake in firing Comey is that he believed that Comey would be loyal to him personally. I don’t think he would have attracted such legal jeopardy if he had fired Comey immediately upon taking office.

    • Dev Null says:

      I agree with this generally speaking, especially the point that Comey tampered with the election, but were Trump not such a deeply compromised crook, he wouldn’t have fired Comey, eh?

      As KM said up-thread, “Brazen double standards as a feature, not a bug.”

      [Comey] didn’t see fit to say anything about the investigations against Trump during the campaign- one explanation could be that he didn’t take Trump’s candidature seriously and so was focused on constricting a future President Clinton’s freedom of action, by making such a huge public fuss about an ultimately groundless investigation. This  in itself is telling, in that one of the top law enforcement officials chose to make a fuss about an investigation that he knew wasn’t amounting to anything.


      The explanation I’ve heard for this is that “the Russia investigation was a counter-intel investigation, and exposure would jeopardize that investigation, while the email investigation was a nothing-burger, so hey! the sky’s the limit!”

      Makes no sense whatsoever. (Well, OK, I get “counter-intel”, but then WTF?!? why are you putting your thumb on the counterweight?)

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    That Trump is such an obvious, pervasive fuck-up also suggests how deep and widespread must have been his campaign to hush it up. No half-way normal person forces so many people who get a glimpse inside his tent to sign such onerous, one-sided, probably unenforceable, lifetime non-disclosure agreements.  Some of it can be put down to his PT Barnum like insistence that black is white, some to the credulity of many of us, but that would just about cover Trump’s backside, not his full frontal.

    The stories of a few of the women have leaked.  Which have not?  What else has not?  And what will come out about them in the course of these several investigations.

  25. Jill says:

    So DNI Clapper tells Comey ( see page 1 ) to inform Trump that there is extremely libidinous, vulgar and unverified information of the most disgusting kind in the possession of the intel community and everyone is comfortable with such a scenario?

    How do we know that the information was unverified? Clapper told us:

     “The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable…”


    Then Comey states on national tv that he only told Trump “the salacious part of it” and absolutely nothing else, like real security threats?


    I think 99 percent of the people out here would think they were being blackmailed or something even worse.





    • Trip says:

      Comey only told Trump about the salacious part of the dossier, one on one, to diminish embarrassment, rather than sharing among a crowd.

    • Trip says:

      You are either grossly misinformed or intent on spreading disinformation:

      On Jan. 6, two weeks before Trump was sworn in as president, the nation’s top intelligence officials boarded an aircraft at Joint Base Andrews on the outskirts of Washington to travel to New York for one of the most delicate briefings they would deliver in their decades-long careers.
      Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Agency chief Michael S. Rogers flew together aboard an Air Force 737. FBI Director James B. Comey traveled separately on an FBI Gulfstream aircraft…The four men had convened a virtual meeting the previous evening, speaking by secure videoconference to plan their presentation to the incoming president of a classified report on Russia’s election interference and its pro-Trump objective….Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U.S. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.On Jan. 6, two weeks before Trump was sworn in as president, the nation’s top intelligence officials boarded an aircraft at Joint Base Andrews on the outskirts of Washington to travel to New York for one of the most delicate briefings they would deliver in their decades-long careers.Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Agency chief Michael S. Rogers flew together aboard an Air Force 737. FBI Director James B. Comey traveled separately on an FBI Gulfstream aircraft, planning to extend his stay for meetings with bureau officials…The four men had convened a virtual meeting the previous evening, speaking by secure videoconference to plan their presentation to the incoming president of a classified report on Russia’s election interference and its pro-Trump objective….Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U.S. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation…Trump seemed, at least for the moment, to acquiesce.“He was affable, courteous, complimentary,” Clapper said. “He didn’t bring up the 400-pound guy.”A copy of the report was left with Trump’s designated intelligence briefer. But there was another, more sensitive matter left to cover….Clapper and Comey had initially planned to remain together with Trump while discussing an infamous dossier that included salacious allegations about the incoming president. But in the end, Comey felt he should handle the matter with Trump alone, saying that the dossier was being scrutinized exclusively by the FBI. After the room emptied, Comey explained that the dossier had not been corroborated and that its contents had not influenced the intelligence community’s findings — but that the president needed to know it was in wide circulation in Washington.


      • SteveB says:

        Well said Trip.


        There is a contradiction in the heart of the Trumpers “defence” re intelligence matters, and the dossier.

        On the one hand they complain that informing Trump of the full contents is blackmail, on the other they complain that Trump Campaign wasn’t warned about Carter Page being a Russian asset.

        At some point as president elect Trump was bound to be given some sort of defensive briefing about the allegation of kompromat. I have yet to see a Trumper set out how when and by whom that should have been done, let alone explain how such an alternative would have been preferable.

        The Trumpers only engage with the actual events of the count-intelligence investigation by carping and nit-picking, while screaming Hoax and WitchHunt.

    • bmaz says:

      Once again, you are ridiculously misrepresenting, if not flat out inventing, facts and circumstances. This is the wrong site to do that on. Keep it up and we are going to have a real problem. And it is a relentless characteristic of your “contributions” here.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Ninety-nine and 44/100ths of the people out there would think it strange that a Republican president has not asked for a full intelligence briefing on interference in the American electoral process by the country with whom the US has been most at odds since 1917, nor asked for a game plan to stop it.

      More than that want to know why the president has sat on his thumbs, and spent hours a day tweeting about things too petty for the National Enquirer, and yet done nothing about Russian interference except to protect Mr. Putin’s oligarchs from harm and to threaten and fire his own investigative and law enforcement executives.

      • SteveB says:

        Re 99 and 44/100

        On a scale of 100 to1

        where 100 is fully protecting US democratic processes

        Mr Cohen’s clientele is not even a 1

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Put me in the .56 percent that can see a reason why Potus has *NOT* asked.

        Speaking of percentages, apparently only 1/6th of the #FakeNews (misleading Facebook ads) can be attributed to Internet Research Agency.

        So, maybe the other 5/6th were domestic?


        And now, FaceBook is thinking about forcing #FakeNews upon their users before midterms.


        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Actually, it was 1/6th of the suspicious ads, and the suspicious ads were 1/2 of all of the ads in the study, so only about 1/12th of the ads overall could be attributed to Internet Research Agency.

          Yet, it is Russia, it’s always Russia. BS.


          The researchers couldn’t find any trace, in federal records or online, of half of the 228 groups it tracked that purchased Facebook ads about controversial political issues in that six-week stretch. Of those so-called “suspicious” advertisers, one in six turned out to be associated with the Internet Research Agency, according to the list of accounts Facebook eventually provided to Congress.
          What’s more, it shows these suspicious advertisers predominantly targeted voters in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
          In total, groups that had never filed a report with the Federal Election Commission placed four times as many ads as groups that had.

            • SpaceLifeForm says:

              No. Read the Wired link. A peer reviewed study. Very cool.

              Kim actually *COLLECTED* the ads from FaceBook users. The users actually participated in the study by installing a fake ad-blocker that instead of blocking the ad, it sent the ad to the researcher.

              It is very smart, turning the attack back on the attackers.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Purity of Essence: above all, avoid its loss.  Brigadier Jack D. Ripper, explaining to his second-in-command, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake:

              “I do not avoid women Mandrake… but I do deny them my essence.”

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Another percentage. As I surmised many months ago. Dems failed to vote.


        The study from researchers at Ohio State University finds that fake news probably played a significant role in depressing Hillary Clinton’s support on Election Day. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed but which may be the first look at how fake news affected voter choices, suggests that about 4 percent of President Barack Obama’s 2012 supporters were dissuaded from voting for Clinton in 2016 by belief in fake news stories.

        [They just did not vote. Which impacted state and local elections. Missouri is big issue now with the governer in deep shit. Albeit not as bad as say, Cohen, but not good when a governer is facing two felony charges.]

        [There *WILL* be lines to vote 2018-11-06]

        • Dev Null says:

          This has been CW in some circles for quite a while – I’ve bought into the claim. That said, not everyone agrees that the claim is correct.

          Good to have confirmation, such as it is. Guessing that this won’t be the last volley.

          Quick EDIT because my time-to-edit is expiring: I seem to recall that voter discouragement was a key element of the CA plan. Possibly the Trump campaign as well, but I don’t have time to check.

          • bmaz says:

            Yes. But this is the key to the Russian interference. With the illegal hacks, slow dribbles, Wikileaks, and idiotic and relentless coverage  by mainstream outlets like NY Times and cable news, it pretty easy to see how Dems got falsely disinterested and Republicans ginned up.

            • Dev Null says:

              Yes. It wasn’t one-stop shopping, and CA might be the least effective component in the mix. (No way to evaluate CA’s contribution with confidence without more data.)

              e.g. there’ve been multiple articles in the past year about Wisconsin voter disenfranchisement (VD) … the most recent article I read on GOP VD (I think in MoJo) claims that VD delivered Wisconsin to Trump. Unsurprising, as the number of disenfranchised voters was far larger than Trump’s margin in Wisconsin. (That’s IIRC. I can find the link if there’s interest.)

              CA appears to be part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, tied in clear ways to Bannon and the Mercers and in as-yet-unclear ways to Putin and Wikileaks (but we all know that.)

              God only knows why the FTFNYT so hates the Clintons, but so it is. It’s in their Credo, apparently … you can’t be a FTFNYT employee unless you pledge fealty to the campaign to take down the Clintons. Or something.

              Commercial TV, ugh:

              Ten years later, it was Zucker, now the head of CNN, who gave Trump astonishing amounts of free exposure in the Republican presidential primary on the cable network, continually blasting out his speeches and rallies — often unfiltered and without critical fact-checking.

              “It’s a not-unfair knock on CNN to say that they went all in on Trump and helped him enormously,” Ken Lerer, co-founder of the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, said in a recent onstage interview at City University of New York’s journalism school. “I think it was a strategy, a programming strategy.”


              Ratings. Clicks. Audience. Say what you will about Trump as a human being or a potential leader of the free world, he has an ineffable ability to get attention. He has called himself a “ratings machine,” and in the world of TV, ratings equal profit.

              “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” Leslie Moonves, chairman of CBS, said of the Trump phenomenon in March, according to the Hollywood Reporter.


              “The money’s rolling in, and this is fun. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

              Moonves’s ebullience makes it clear that ratings madness infects all of commercial TV, although, of course, particularly the cable-news channels.

              (From here:



              Panem et circenses, for the modern era.

              But the Big Deal™, the intervention that elected Trump, was Comey’s October Surprise.

              Plenty of references here … 538’s evaluation comes to mind, but that was one of many.

              Comey elected Trump … and did so by putting his big fat thumb on the scale, against DoJ guidance. Knowing that Russia.

              HRC’s support dropped immediately after Comey’s Surprise … and had not recovered to its previous level by the time the election rolled around.

          • Dev Null says:

            I think there’s a recent article featuring Brad Parscale (rather than that idiot Javanka), but this will serve to make the point:


            “Three Major Voter Suppression Operations”

            “If you can’t say anything nice about your own party … disenfranchise the other party.”

            (w/apologies to Alice Roosevelt Longworth)

            EDIT: FWIW, one of my wingnut relatives – an atty with connections to the military and to LE – told me prior to the election that HRC should be charged with violation of the Espionage Act blah blah blah. I pointed my relative to arguments against use of the clause cited, with no effect that I am aware of.

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Apropos of Trump more than Comey, and of neoliberalism more than republicanism, from Mark Twain via Lewis Lapham:

    “[The] Gilded Age, the phrase coined by Mark Twain to suggest that a society amounting to the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all, but a state of war.”

  27. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Been wondering about Awan?

    I have, for many months now.

    Congressmen Repeatedly Failed To Supervise IT Aides With ‘Keys To The Kingdom,’ Officials Say

    Only one IT aide currently working directly for members of Congress has ever completed a background check, members’ data have been improperly mixed with other members’ data, and members provided almost no supervision, officials revealed Thursday in a House hearing spurred by “egregious” violations by former IT aide Imran Awan.
    Members of Congress threw “$10 million” in additional funding to the [chief administrative officer (CAO)] in order to enhance their cybersecurity program” in June 2017. The move followed repeated cybersecurity threats against members of Congress, including the detection of what an IG report called “unauthorized access” by Awan. They also had the CAO and others propose how best to clamp down on vulnerabilities. But the CAO revealed Thursday that members blocked the resulting proposal, which called for eliminating Awan’s job category, that of a floating IT aide accountable only to members.

  28. Jill says:

     “But in the end, Comey felt he should handle the matter with Trump alone, saying that the dossier was being scrutinized exclusively by the FBI.”


    Comey’s own words in his own memos refutes the above statement. Clapper told Comey to do it.

    Then after the meeting, we have CNN reporting that Comey gave Trump a 2 page synopsis which included allegations “that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government…”


    Of course that is false because now we know what Comey told Tapper on TV, that he only told Trump “the salacious part of it”


    Seems to me that the same people who told Comey what to do are the same people who leaked the story to CNN, only Comey failed to follow their script.

    So Comey ( and everyone else at the January 5th meeting at Trump Tower including Yates, Rice, Brennan and Clapper ) never told Trump about the entire contents of the Steele dossier. Why not?

    Well the reason is found in Susan Rice’s email to herself:
    “In her email, Rice wrote that Obama wanted to know whether there was any reason they should not be sharing information related to Russia.
    “From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia,” Rice wrote.”

    Who is Rice covering for?

    • bmaz says:

      Susan Rice?? Really? You truly are a Trumpbot spam machine, aren’t you?

      Listen. I warned you yesterday to stop posting patently disingenuous, if not factually bogus, material here. You are clearly trolling. I approved this comment just to let you know that such bunk is just not going to fly here. That will be the last warning.

    • JD12 says:

      Did you read the memo? It doesn’t refute the quote you gave. What Clapper said was “alone or in a very small group.” He left it to Comey, and Trump, to decide.

      As for the second part, Comey and Trump were the only ones there, and neither gave CNN that info.  Comey could have forgotten to document that part of it. Or, most likely, their source (rhymes with Shmennan), was mistaken or wanted that information out there.

      They didn’t have to brief him on any of it, but Comey said in the Tapper interview that they thought Trump needed to know the salacious stuff in case it went public. The other stuff was already public.

  29. david_l says:

    (Sorry if this is too off-topic.)

    I have a question about the DOJ regulation issues and the legal issues related to Rosenstein telling Trump he “is not a Target”, assuming the reports are correct.

    If Trump is already “in” a sealed indictment (several cases created by Indicted X Unindicted X Named X Unnamed X Conspirator X Co-conspirator) then what are Rosenstein’s legal and DOJ regulation obligations and constraints concerning what he Must vs. Can tell Trump.

    The simplest scenario would obviously be that both according to law and according to DOJ regulation Rosenstein is prohibited from telling Trump he is not a Subject if Trump is an unindicted, unnamed co-conspirator in a sealed indictment.

    I also would like to know if indicted Subjects entitled to know immediately that they are indicted?

    I’d appreciate help understanding whether this is a clean-cut situation or not and what might/must be the indictment situation (e.g., could there be sealed indictments regarding Trump) if Rosenstein told Trump he is not a subject. (Apparently he told him this vis a vis both Mueller and SDNY).



      • david_l says:

        Right. And subjects can instantly become targets, in general.

        I am trying to understand 1) whether Rosenstein would have been obligated to tell Trump if he does appear in an indictment (sealed), 2) whether, technically, once indicted a person is no longer a “Subject”, and 3) must anyone appearing in any non-witness or passing-reference capacity in a sealed indictment be immediately notified they appear in it.

        I.e., can I rule out, through Rosenstein’s legal and DOJ regulations obligations, that Trump does not appear (other than as potential witness/passing reference) in a sealed indictment?


        • david_l says:


          So I conclude that there are scenarios in which 1) there could be sealed Mueller indictments specifically against Trump  (though this case of the possible 6 seems unlikely due to the DOJ as-yet untested policy against indicting a sitting president), 2) Rosenstein would not have been (or be) obligated to tell Trump e.g., he’s under indictment, 3) the same could unfold in the SDNY situation, 4) there could already be SDNY (or other Fed district) sealed indictments against Trump for e.g., money laundering, which 4) SDNY might be looking to bolster/expand with Cohen’s information.

          Possibilities, at least.

          Which, at least for SDNY, Rudy might even have “vibes” or “hunches” about and so Trump hiring the husband-wife white collar crime duo may have been more than simply prudent preparation.

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Dear Dana Bash,

    If you’re going to interview a pit bull like Kellyanne Conway, bring a leash or a good comeback. Your question about her husband’s tweets was valid. Kellyanne thought she could score easy points off you and she did.

    You might have shot back that her husband is a well-known lawyer and public figure. He and Kellyanne pride themselves on being a Washington power couple. He posted critical comments about the President, for whom his wife very publicly works. Given the brittle ego of her boss, he knew sparks would fly and they did. Your question was obvious. Yet you allowed Conway to make her husband look like a vulnerable Mamie Eisenhower.

    He’s not a victim, a stay-at-home family member or even a covert intelligence operative. He threw his hat into the ring. You wanted to know if the president stepped on it. You deserved an answer. So do we.

    Kind Regards,

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sean Hannity, hiding his slum landlord empire.

    Nobody making $36 million a year and investing $90 million in real estate has his legal work done by Michael Cohen.  Not if you want to be sure every deal is legal, binding, and enforceable in accordance with its terms, mostly in Georgia.

    You hire Michael Cohen to tell you how to remove tenants, how to get your hands on loans from HUD or certain well-heeled private lenders, or who can help you quietly get a zoning change. Or if you need lots of concrete and maybe not so well documented workers.

    So the question is, what material evidence does Michael Cohen have regarding Sean Hannity that is so obvious that he had to declare him a client and reveal his name in open court, after he and Hannity have gone to such lengths to keep things on the QT and hush, hush?

    • bmaz says:

      Welp, the alternative is that Hannity was never really a client, but that Cohen was so hard up to show that he had a functioning law practice that he manufactured a client and hoped it would be accepted as anonymous.  I dunno, neither side looks very good for Cohen. He is, shall we say, screwed.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Even Michael Cohen had a few names he might have used that were not so electric.  And three does not do much more than two to qualify Cohen’s as a functioning legal practice.  That is, unless the name is already in the seized documents and unless those clients are all as special as Tom Hagen’s.  So it’s hard to make that option my first choice.

        I have to agree, that with his documents and life under a high-powered federal prosecutor’s microscope, Michael Cohen is screwed.

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