Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

James Comey Testifies

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

NOTE: The following is paraphrased in both answers and questions. In some cases there are exact quotes, but for the most part the questions and answers are shortened to make the them more  digestible. Also you’ll notice that I have omitted some questions, in favor of going with more relevant highlights. With the exception of the McCain question line.  I had to make sure you understood the complete bizarreness in which he was acting.

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THE PLAYERS
James Comey – former director of the FBI, fired during the investigation into Trump’s campaign.
Chairman – Sen. Richard Burr (R)
Vice chairman - Sen. John Warner (R)
Sen.  Jim Risch (R)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D)
Sen. Susan Collins (R)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D)
Sen. Roy Blunt (R)
Sen. Angus King (I)
Sen. James Lankford (R)
Sen. Joe Manchin (D)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R)
Sen. Kamala Harris (D)
Sen. John Cornyn (R)
Sen. Jack Reed (D)
Sen. John McCain (R)
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THE OPENING STATEMENT:
Comey: Confused and concerned of his firing. Calls Trump’s accusations of him and the FBI “lies”. Ends statement with formal good bye to colleagues.
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THE QUESTIONING

Burr: Did the president ask you to stop the investigation?
Comey: No.
Burr: Did the president obstruct the investigation in any way?
Comey: No.
Burr: Could there be anything in the investigation of the administration that could be seen as illegal activity?
Comey: Yes.

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Warner: Why document meetings after the first Trump meeting?
Comey: I was honestly concerned that he would lie about our meeting and future meetings.
Warner: Did you feel you needed to create records about the meetings (with Trump)?
Comey: I felt compelled to start documenting these meetings because I felt I may need documentation on these meetings in the future. Because of the nature of the individual (Trump).
Warner: Was this the first time you’ve had to take notes of this type with a president?
Comey: Yes. Because of the nature of the individual.
<My Video feed cut out for approximately 1:30.>
Warner: Did you feel like you were being asked for something, with your job in the balance?
Comey: We had three conversation in which he (Trump) seemingly leveraged my career in hopes for favors. “This was a disturbing development”.
Warner: Did the president ever ask about any other investigation?
Comey: No.

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Risch: “I hope you can see your way into letting this go. I hope you can drop this. He’s a good guy. I hope you can let this go. – Trump to Comey about Flin.
Risch: Has he directed you to drop this investigation?
Comey: Not in his direct words, no.
Risch: So he didn’t direct you to let Flin go?
Comey: Well… not in those words, but
Risch: So in your recollection has anyone ever been convicted over hope?
Comey: Well… no…
Risch: Thank you Mr. Comey

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Feinstein: Phone calls in which Trump asked you to “lift the cloud” (of the investigation)
Comey: I think what he meant was, “am I the president, under investigation?” which I handled in kind of a cowardly way. Just wanting to get off the phone (by telling him he wasn’t under investigation).
Feinstein: Did you discuss this with anyone else?
Comey: I discussed the conversation with my coleeges and we decided to look for ways to corraberate this. Because now there was only my word against the presidents.

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Rubio: Did you ever say to anyone that this was inappropriate behavior?
Comey: No.  And I suppose I should have acted differently, but under the circumstances I wasn’t able to act on the issue.
Rubio: Was there a tit-for-tat, in the Mcabe thing?
Comey: I wasn’t honestly sure that I could put it in that context.
Rubio: The president ask you three things. Loyal, let Flin go, and please tell the American people that I’m not under investigation?
Comey: Yes that is correct.
Rubio: Who did you tell about these conversations?
Comey: Deputy director, Associate deputy director,

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Wyden: You said that the president was looking to “get something”
Comey: I don’t know if my job was in the balance.
Wydent:  How was Sessions (AG) involved?
Comey: We knew that he was going to recuse himself.
Wyden: How was the AG involved in your firing?
Comey: I don’t know that he was.
Wyden:  Should the American people be concerned about this administrations connections with the Russians?
Comey: I believe that the special  prosecuters investigation is very important as to what is going on.

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Collins: Did you volunteer that he (Trump) was not under investigation
Comey: the context then was very narrower, and I didn’t want to leave him with the impression that we were directly investigating him.
Collins: Was there any kind of investigation of the president under way?
Comey: Not under that context.
Collins: Was the president under investigation when you were let go?
Comey: No.
Collins: Why didn’t you tell the president that he shouldn’t ask you to drop the investigation? And why didn’t you contact the white house council?
Comey: I did tell Sessions that he should have never left me alone in the room. No, I didn’t tell them about the request.  The circumstances and gut feeling told me that I need to make records of this.
Collins: Who did you show these to?
Comey: I asked a friend of mine to show these to a reporter in hope that it would spur a special prosecuter.

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Heinrich: How unusual is it to have a one-on-one dinner with the president?
Comey: Very
Heinrich: Can you expand on the investigation into Russian intervention.
Comey: there is no fuzz on the fact that the Russians interviened in our election.
Heinrich: Do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned with Russian actions?
Comey: I can’t say.
Heinrich: Why should we believe you?
Comey: I believe we should take everything together, based on all the presidents actions. And why would he kick everyone else out of the room just to talk to me?  (his word against mine).  As an investigator that always raises questions.

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Blunt: So you took in your direction that you were being asked to do something  you shouldn’t do?
Comey: Yes
Blunt: You took no action, was that the right thing to do?
Comey: I believe so, yes
Blunt: So you said “he (Flin) was a good guy” and that was the end of it?
Comey: I continued to report to my people.
Blunt: In three occasions you told the president that he was not under investigation?
Comey: correct.
Blunt: after you were dismissed that you gave information to a friend to give to the media, you don’t think that was government documents?
Comey: those were my documents. They were not classified information.

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King: Did you iniciate the dinner with Trump?
Comey: No
King: Did you ever call the president?
Comey: No.  I never iniciated communication with the president.
<lot of questions Comey can’t answer in an open setting>
King: When you hear a president say something like, “I hope”, does that give you the sense of directive?
Comey: Yes.

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Lankford:  Did anyone else ever approach you about dropping the investigation?
Comey: No
Lankford: These seems like a pretty weak attempt at stopping an investigation.  How would he get this done?
Comey: I think he has the legal authority to issue a direct order?
Lankford:  The president has made it clear publicly that he is not fond of this investigation, do you think there is a difference in that? (between letting the public know and letting the investigators know)
Comey: “Yes. I think there’s a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the FBI director in the eye and saying ‘I hope you let this go’. I think if the agents, as good as they are, heard that, there’s a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. That’s why we kept it so tight.”
Lankford: Were there any media reports about this whole event that got it wrong?
Comey: Yes, there have been many, many reports about Russia, supposedly with classified information, that have been just dead wrong.

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Manchin: Why is this Russian investigation so important?
Comey: Nobody tells us what to vote or fight for other than Americans.  Russia is trying to dirty us up, and they will be back.
Manchin: What do you think about any tapes that the president may have made?
Comey: I hope he releases all the tapes. I have no idea if he has tapes but I hope he does.
Manchin:
<Manchin has pretty much some weak questions…  we’ll skip.>

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Cotton:  Do you believe Donald Trump colluded with Russia?
Comey: That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting. But again, there wasn’t an investigation when I had left. I think that will have to be answered by the special investigation.  …I’m not suggesting anything nefarious or being unfair to Mr. Trump, simply saying that I’m not in the government anymore and this should be left to the special investigation.
Cotton: You were asked earlier if media reports of Trump campaign aids had repeated communication with the Russians, were accurate? Is that story almost entirely wrong?
Comey: Yes.
Cotton: turning to Mr. Flin, Did the FBI review calls between Mr Flin and the Russian ambassador, and find nothing of interest?
Comey: I don’t want to answer that in an open setting, because I’m pretty sure the bureau has not confirmed any intercepted communications.
Cotton: despite all that’s been discussed here today, you didn’t think about quiting?
Comey: No sir.

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Harris: <Harris starts by setting an uneasy tone. Questioning the use of “hope” as a directive. Comey is clearly put off by her use in an example. Which by my observation was disjointed and not comparable.>
Harris: <A slue of questions he cannot answer in an open setting.>
Harris: <A slue of questions regarding AG Sessions recusal from all matters Russia. None of which Comey had significant insight.>
Harris: Are you aware of the president making the same “loyalty request” of any other members?
Comey: I am not.
Harris: Do you know in fact if the AG was involved in the Russia investigation in any way?
Comey:  Let me say, I don’t know of any information that would leave me to believe he did something to touch the Russia investigation after the recusal.

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Cornyn: Do you believe, if a FBI agent reason to believe a crime has been commited do they have a duty to report it?
Comey: I believe they have an ethical duty to report it.
Cornyn: You’re unsure whether they have a legal obligation?
Comey: I don’t know they have a legal duty to report it, they certainly have a cultural, ethical duty to report it.
Cornyn: If you’re trying to make an investigation go away, is firing the FBI director a good way to make that happen?
<at this point I can see where Cornyn is trying to trap Comey.  Obviously Comey can sense it.>
Comey: It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but I’m bias, given that I was the one fired.  But I think the work will go on either way.
Cornyn: so nothing that you’ve said here today has impeded the work from moving forward?
Comey: Yes, and the appointment of special investigator Muller is critical to that.
Cornyn: Let me take you back to the Clinton email investigation…
<Cornyn rehashes the investigation. Cornyn then proceeds to make a case that a special investigator should have been brought in to investigate the Clinton emails citing the former AG’s (Linch) conflict of interest.>
Cornyn: You clearly believed that AG Linch had a conflict of interest?
Comey: That’s correct, I don’t think she could have credibly denied the investigation. Not without greivus damaged to DOJ and FBI.
Cornyn: Under that, then the deputy AG should have brought in a special prosecutor?
Comey: Possible step, yes.
Cornyn: Were you aware that it was requested several times?
Comey: I was aware yes. By members of congress…
Cornyn: Yours truly…  And it was these circumstances that led you to make that July press conference?
Comey: I myself considered calling a special council, but I knew that would be unfair as there was no case there. We did a thorough investigation and I knew there was nothing there. It would have been brutally unfair, as it would have sent a message of ‘ah ha! There’s something there!’ when I knew there wasn’t anything there.
Cornyn: Do you think it’s unreasonable for a president to want the director of the FBI to publicly announce they he is not under investigation?
Comey: I think that’s reasonable from that point of view, but I think it’s dangerous because of a boomerang if it’s wrong.  And again because of that duty to correct.
Cornyn: (laughing) I know you recall that from the Clinton investigation.
Comey: (not laughing) Yes I do.

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Reed: Do you know of reports of the president asking other senior officials to otherwise undermine the investigation?
Comey: I don’t.
Reed: You interpret that the president’s comments were direction to stop the Flin investigation?
Comey: Yes.
Reed: You denied the president’s request to publicly declare him free of investigation?
Comey: Not directly no. I said I’d see what we can do. Because of the duty to correct and the nature of the investigation, it was plausible that he (Trump) could have been part of the questioning as he was the head of the entity.
Reed: Do you believe you were fired because you refused to take the president’s direction?
Comey: I’m not sure. I know that I was fired because the investigation was putting pressure on him and I was in some way irritating him, but I can’t answer that.
<Reed speculates on the wrong doing of Trump>
Reed: By todays testimony is it fair to say that Trump has taken steps to down-play the seriousness of the situation?
Comey: I don’t know if I can agree to that level of detail (referencing  Reeds complete setup of the question), I can say that there is no doubt that I was fired because of the Russian investigation, and was fired to in some way change the direction of the investigation. That is a VERY big deal.

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McCain: <seems drunk or just very, very tired. He rambles on for a bit, with a basic question at the end.> What was the difference between the cases of Clinton and Mr. Trump?
Comey: The Clinton investigation was a completed investigation. So I had an opportunity to understand all the facts and apply those facts against the laws as I understood them. This investigation (Russia) was still going when I was fired.
McCain: So it’s still ongoing?
Comey: It was when I left, I assume it’s still going…
McCain: <sounding even more drunk> That investigation is going on, this investigation is going on, you reach different conclusions?
Comey: No that one (Clinton) was done. No, tha…
McCain: That investigation involving secretary Clinton or any of her associates is completed…
Comey: <puzzled> Yes as of July the 5th that investigation and anything we had found was done. That’s why we had made the announcement.
McCain: <seeming irritated> Well at least in the minds of this member (yes he said minds) there’s a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on. But particularly considering the fact that as you mention, quote “it’s a big deal” as to what went on during the campaign. …But I think the American people have a whole lot of questions, particularly because as you just emphasized, the roll that Russia played. <I’m personally confused by where he is going.  Did he just connect Clinton to the Russians?> And obviously she was a candidate for president at the time so she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news, as you just described it “big deal” took place. <which he never did… so wtf? Did McCain just wake up?> Ya gonna have to help me out here. In other words we’re complete the investigation, anything that former secretary Clinton had to do with anything during the campaign is over and we don’t have to worry about it anymore? <these are not MY grammatical errors.>
Comey: <TOTALLY CONFUSED> With respect to secre… I’m not… I’m a little confused senator… with respect to secretary Clinton we investigated with her use of a personal email server…
McCain: I understand…
Comey: And that’s the investigation I announced the conclusion of July the 5th.
McCain: So, at the same time you made the announcement, there would be no charges brought against then secretary Clinton for any activities involved in the Russia involvement in our engagement in our uh, election. I don’t quite understand how you can be done with that, but not completely done with the whole investigation with their attempt to affect the outcome of our election?
Comey: No, I’m sorry, we’re not…  at least when I left, when I was fired on May the 9th, there was still an open investigation to understand the Russian efforts and whether any Americans worked with them…
McCain: …well, you reached the conclusion that there was no reason to bring charges against secretary Clinton. So you reached a conclusion in the case of Mr. Comey, you, uh… President Comey,
Comey: <raises hands> No sir.
McCain: eh, excuse me. In the case of president Trump, you, uh, have an ongoing investigation. So you got one candidate who you’re done with and another candidate that you have a long way to go. Is that correct?
Comey: I don’t know how far the FBI has to go, but yes. The Clinton email investigation is completed, and the Russian investigation and an whether there was any coordination and if so with whom… was ongoing as I left.
McCain: You just made it clear in what you said, you said this was a quote, big deal, un-quote.  I, uh, I think it’s hard to reconcile that in one case you reach a conclusion and on the other side, you have not. And you, in fact, obviously there’s a lot more there as we know, as you called it, quote, a big deal. She’s one of the candidates but in her case you say, there will be know charges. But in the case of president Trump, the investigation continues.
<McCain continued to ask bizarre questions that didn’t make a difference.  I’m pretty sure Comey just felt the need to entertain the old coot until the end of the session. McCain simply couldn’t understand that there were two investigations, not related to one another. If based on this interaction, I’d have to call McCain’s mental health into question.>

 

And so the open session ended.

In conclusion: Nothing is going to happen. Anything short of Comey coming out and saying,” YES, Trump is obstructing justice, and he should be prosecuted.”, is going to have any effect on this administration. However, I have learned much about James Comey, and frankly…  I like him. I’m pretty sure he is one of the most straight-shooting people you’ll ever come across.

Divisiveness

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Due in part to the recent election, we’ve seen the divide between ideals and beliefs grow wider. But beyond that, the divide has grown deeper.  Deeper, in the sense that the middle ground can no longer be seen, almost to the point of nonexistence.

More importantly…  I’m glad.

As everyone keeps saying, “It’s time now to come together. This division among us, only hurts us.” And I’m not going to dispute that.  We as a nation are indeed stronger when we’re not divided. There is one problem with this, though. That chasm is there for a reason. In order to come together, I’d have to see things as the other side sees them, and I simply cannot do that when they are so unwilling to budge or even bend on their viewpoints, viewpoints I consider extreme.  Just as extreme as they see my viewpoints. So we are essentially at an impasse.

The other issue is this; The more extreme stance one side takes, leads the other side to take an equal and opposite (reactive) stance. So the stalemate continues.  It is completely unfair to ask one side or the other to compromise, because when we’ve reached such extremes, even a slight compromise seems like a complete abandonment of ideology. To make matters worse, attempting to bridge the divide is seen as a weakness, BY BOTH SIDES, and is quickly jeered and pounced upon by detractors.  The role of “moderate” is dead.

Right now is when I should be saying something like, “This can be fixed, if we all just lower our extreme views and try to see eye to eye, for the good of the country.”  But that would be overly simplistic, and a lie. Instead I’m going to tell you that any hope you had of these two sides coming together, is a pipe dream. This chasm has grown too wide and WAY too deep.  And I’m fine with that. Oh, it’s not how I’d prefer it by any means…  But I’m not going to lie to myself just so I can bridge gaps with people I couldn’t possibly agree with.  And nobody should.

Yes. Nobody should be selling their soul just to get a little bit of work done. I think that’s the sum of the point I’m trying to make here.  I’m tired of my side (yes I said “MY SIDE”) compromising our lives away, just so the other side can steamroll a piece of crap legislation through congress.  I’m tired of being on the side that constantly tries to work with and bend to the other sides will… just to keep the peace. I’m tired of being told that we should put our differences aside and come together…  Fine, I’ll come to the table, as soon as they drop those pitchforks and torches.  But that’s never going to happen, and I see no reason why I should pick up a torch and follow them into the abyss.

To end, I’m sure the other side feels the same way. In fact, I know they do, as they have proven it to us over the past 8 years. And that’s fine. Perhaps now we can have a proper civil war. Unfortunately, I think that’s the only way we’ll be able to understand where our divisive ways can lead us. And YES, I totally understand the irony of what I’m saying.  “Division is bad.” Yet I’m being divisive.  But it is divisiveness with purpose.  (now I just sound like a madman.)

The new narrative

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

The War on Intellect and The War on Science

Yeah, I said it. I’m sure I’m not the first. But let’s just clear the air and get it out of the way. As the Republicans love to give us wars…  “The War on Christmas”, “The War on Religion (Christianity)”, “The War on Guns”, “The War on Fetuses”, “The War on ‘Southern Heritage’”… etc, etc.  Wars that only made sense to them, btw.  So now, I’m going to feel VERY free to throw a couple of these WARS back at them.

Welcome to the new Trump narrative… The Dark Ages 2.0

I give you…

The War on Intellect.
And,
The War on Science.

There isn’t a single person here who hasn’t heard the right wing throw out the term, very loosely I may add, “The intellectual Elite” in a very derogatory.  Adding a touch of distaste and even contempt in their voices, as though they were casually discussing an incurable STD.  The right has made intellect and people with intellect, into a narrative of disease and disgust.  Something you might find two schoolyard bullies doing on the playground during recess.  As if being smart IS the problem with the world today.

Make no mistake though; we are entering into a new age of suppression. A Dark Ages 2.0, if you will. A backlash by millions of people who have simply grown tired of NOT UNDERSTANDING the expanding world around them. Like nature intended…  they feared what they did not understand, and were forced to devolve to their most primal instinct, attack. Attacking what makes you uncomfortable or things that are difficult to handle, is a natural and common response.  These fears are why we are currently seeing such an upswing in anti-science, anti-facts, and anti-intellegence types of rhetoric among our current populous.  Too much of a good thing can be frightening, if you’re not part of the good thing. And so they move to suppress.

The War on Intellect; Meh, it’s not much of a war.  Not yet anyway.
But, The War on Science…  Well, that’s real and we are currently witnessing the lengths this country is willing to go to, to ignore, debunk, and completely alter facts and the scientific community.