October 18, 2017, 4:20 pm
President Donald Trump, left, sitting next to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, right, speaks during a meeting of the committee and members of the President's economic team in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Another simply bizarre new thread in the Trump bereavement call story. The Post called the families of service members who’ve died in the line of duty since Trump became President. There were some good stories, some bad; some had never heard from the President. There were a lot of what you might call Trumpian moments. But the really bizarre story was his conversation with Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, killed in Afghanistan.

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-Josh Marshall
October 18, 2017, 3:20 pm

Yes, Trump is making a total mess of the Alexander-Murray deal.

-David Kurtz
October 18, 2017, 2:34 pm

Alice Ollstein got hold of the memos Dems and GOPs are circulating to members to whip support for the Alexander/Murray Obamacare stabilization bill. It gives a pretty clear sense of the rough sled Republicans could be heading into, as I noted yesterday.

-Josh Marshall
October 18, 2017, 11:53 am

We’re now getting all the accounts of just what President Trump said last night to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, how she interpreted it, how her Congresswoman did, how her family did. These are harrowing situations under the best circumstances. Even for a normal person, a normal President, it’s hard to know just what to say. But why are we here? Why is this whole thing happening? It’s happening because, for whatever reason, Trump went silent on this, not only with the families but even with the public.

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-Josh Marshall
October 17, 2017, 10:32 pm
President Donald Trump speaks as he stands next Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., after their meeting at the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A disturbing report out of Florida. This comes from the local ABC affiliate in Miami-Dade …

U.S. President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Tuesday that “he knew what he signed up for …but when it happens it hurts anyway,” when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens.

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-Josh Marshall
October 17, 2017, 10:19 pm

Here’s the President’s comment on the Alexander-Murray Obamacare stabilization proposal from his speech this evening at the Heritage Foundation.

“And I’m pleased the Democrats have finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their Obamacare disaster and work with Republicans to provide much-needed relief to the American people. While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”

… per the White House pool report.

-Josh Marshall
October 17, 2017, 6:15 pm

Here’s my backgrounder (sub req) on the likely fall out of this Obamacare stabilization bill which has been tentatively agreed to in the Senate. It puts Republicans in an awful bind.

-Josh Marshall
October 17, 2017, 4:20 pm

Russian trolls used “up to 100” activists in the US to organize events in the US during the 2016 campaign.

-Josh Marshall
October 17, 2017, 3:09 pm
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about Puerto Rico upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The United States has been in a more or less perpetual state of war since the fall of 2001. That’s more than fifteen years. Whether you support or oppose wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and lower intensity conflicts in various other countries, it has left thousands of American men and women dead and far more with longterm injuries. The number of US military deaths is down dramatically from the middle years of the Bush presidency and even from the early years of Obama’s presidency. Military deaths in Afghanistan actually went up dramatically during Obama’s first term as he refocused the country from Iraq to Afghanistan. (According to iCasaulties.org, 1,544 American military personal died in Afghanistan during Obama’s first four years in office. The number to date this year is 11.)

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-Josh Marshall
October 17, 2017, 2:58 pm

We’ve been combing through a huge new report out today from the Russian news agency RBC, whose investigators previously helped TPM identify a Twitter account, @tpartynews, that was run by the notorious Russian troll farm that purchased $100,000 worth of Facebook ads. (sub req.)

-Catherine Thompson
October 17, 2017, 11:07 am
President Donald Trump speaks as he stands next Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., after their meeting at the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A week ago there was a raft of articles suggesting that President Trump was somehow coming undone. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman had prominent Republicans speculating about the ex-generals having to wrestle the nuclear ‘football’ away from the President. Quotes had him “unstable”, “losing step”, “unraveling.” Retiring Senator Bob Corker said: “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”

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-Josh Marshall
October 17, 2017, 9:39 am
-David Kurtz
October 16, 2017, 4:39 pm

Why did President Trump make up this lie about President Obama not calling the families of bereaved soldiers? It wasn’t just Obama. He seemed to say that previous presidents didn’t do this at all or only did it rarely. Anyone who follows the news knows that’s not true. Basically all Presidents at some point talk about these conversations.

It seems hard to believe that he didn’t come up with this because he had no good explanation for the fact that he’s gone more than a week without making any contact with the families or even making any public statement on what happened.

-Josh Marshall
October 16, 2017, 2:35 pm

Here are the highlights (sub req) from President Trump’s impromptu press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

-David Taintor
October 16, 2017, 2:27 pm

President Trump falsely claims that President Obama and other former Presidents did not call the bereaved families of service members who died in the line of duty.

-Josh Marshall
October 16, 2017, 1:14 pm

The following is a rush transcript of President Trump’s comments a few moments ago on Obamacare. There may be small textual errors. But it will give you a broad sense of what he said. It’s important to read.

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-Josh Marshall
October 16, 2017, 12:43 pm

President Trump just gave an angry, thrashing, desperate sounding series of remarks about Obamacare. He pressed the point that people think it’s an emergency now that he’s cut off CSR payments. And he thinks that’s good. He went on about how the health insurers only fund Democrats, lashed out at Democrats, says healthcare is going to be great once they repeal Obamacare. It struck me as more unhinged and febrile than usual for Trump. One continuing theme is that even through his anger and need to lash out he seems not to understand even the most elemental details of how the health care system or Obamacare works.

Here’s a bit of video that capture the tone …

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-Josh Marshall
October 16, 2017, 11:29 am

In Austria’s legislative elections, from which a Chancellor will be chosen, the free market People’s Party (OVP), campaigning on a promise to reduce the number of refugees (primairly from the Middle East) and to limit benefits for immigrants, led the field with 31.6 percent. The Social Democrats (SPO) came in with 26.7 percent, which is a postwar low for a party that has been in power, or shared power, for most of the last 70 years. And the Greens, whose candidate had won the presidency last year, came in at 3.8 percent, less than enough to qualify for parliamentary representation.

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-John Judis
October 15, 2017, 9:01 pm
President Donald Trump smiles as he announces in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017,  that Kirstjen Nielsen, a cybersecurity expert and deputy White House chief of staff is his choice to be the next Homeland Security Secretary. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Going on two years ago I read something formative to my understanding of Donald Trump. It was a column by then-Times business columnist Joe Nocera. The column was about a particular swindle with a golf resort. Standard Trump. But the part that mattered was Nocera’s observation about Trump’s fundamental way of doing business and interacting with other people, one he knew from years of covering Trump.

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-Josh Marshall
October 14, 2017, 8:29 pm

A key moment today at the ‘Values Voters Summit’. Steve Bannon was listing off all the great things the President has done since his favored candidate went down to defeat in Alabama. Among them, Bannon admitted what the White House has repeatedly denied, which is that Trump decided to cut off CSR payments to make the health insurance exchanges blow up, thus making prices skyrocket.

-Josh Marshall
October 13, 2017, 4:25 pm

The Obamas have chosen the artists who will paint their official presidential portraits. Here’s who they chose and some examples of their work.

Definitely take a look.

-Josh Marshall
October 13, 2017, 3:19 pm
President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Iran policy from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump straight up lied in his speech today on ‘decertifying’ the Iran nuclear deal. He said: “The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement.” This is not true. The US, the Europeans, outside observers, the inspectors all agree that Iran is meeting the conditions of the deal. If Iran were violating the deal, all of this drama wouldn’t have been necessary. Trump could have just canceled the deal without any need to justify the decision. He would have had broad support for doing so. That’s the bind he’s been in. The Iranians are keeping their end of the bargain. So Trump really hasn’t had a good rationale – legal or geopolitical – for getting out.

But there’s a different part of the speech I want to focus on. In addition to all the things the President says his new policy will accomplish he made this pledge. “We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.”

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-Josh Marshall
October 13, 2017, 1:40 pm
-Josh Marshall
October 13, 2017, 11:19 am
President Donald Trump speaks during an energy roundtable with tribal, state, and local leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The big news out this morning is the overnight decision to end so-called CSR payments to insurers. We’ll have articles out today with technical details. But these are payments which are part of the framework which keeps insurance rates affordable in the Obamacare markets. Doing this directly, intentionally makes rates spike. They may not say it out loud. But many Republicans, especially in the Senate, had no appetite for this action, mainly because they know the consequences will fall largely on them.

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-Josh Marshall
October 12, 2017, 10:33 pm

We were getting hints of this late this afternoon and now Politico, first, then the Washington Post are reporting, citing anonymous sources, that President Trump will end Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. This move, in combination with the executive order Trump signed earlier in the day, threatens to begin the unraveling of the Obamacare marketplaces.

CBO projects cutting off the payments will make premiums 20 percent higher by 2018 and 25 percent higher by 2020, while raising the budget deficit by nearly $200 billion by 2026.

What the GOP Congress could not do – repeal Obamacare – Trump is attempting, ham-handedly, with no replacement plan of any kind even contemplated. Just break it and let Congress, maybe, sort it out.

Late update: The White House press secretary just put out a statement confirming the CSRs will end:

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-David Kurtz
October 12, 2017, 2:34 pm

What Republicans are calling “tax reform” is shaping up as the worst kind of legislative mess. To the degree we know specifics, the plan would amount to a massive windfall for the wealthiest Americans. This is hardly surprising. What is surprising are the ways the chaos and disorganization within the GOP (and perhaps also a sense of invulnerability) have led to the creation of a law which would actually hurt a lot of people who really don’t need to be hurt and are politically powerful to boot.

Let me explain what I mean.

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-Josh Marshall
October 12, 2017, 12:45 pm

We’re missing one crucial piece of the roadmap to the Russia probe’s various social media threads.

-Catherine Thompson
October 12, 2017, 12:37 pm
-David Kurtz
October 12, 2017, 12:33 pm

NYPD reviewing police files on Weinstein sex assault allegations.

-Josh Marshall
October 12, 2017, 12:02 pm

From TPM Reader CM

Creative Writing MFA candidate here, with some further thoughts on the word ‘tactical’ as it seemst o be used/intended in current gun culture. These are mostly implicit in the point made by your earlier reader but:

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-Josh Marshall
x

ComeyWire

Trump Jr. Says Dad Asked Comey About Flynn Probe, Though He Denies Doing So

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, discusses the expansion of Trump hotels, Monday, June 5, 2017, in New York.  The Trump Organization is launching a new mid-market hotel chain called "American Ideas." The president's son said the new chain will start with three hotels in Mississippi. The president's son says inspiration for the chain came from traveling through America during his father's presidential campaign. The company also says the first of dozens of hotels in another new Trump chain called Scion is under construction in Mississippi, too. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday said that his father did speak to fired FBI Director James Comey about his preferred outcome for the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, though President Donald Trump flatly denied doing so.

“When I hear the Flynn comments, you and I know both know my father for a long time. When he tells you to do something, guess what? There’s no ambiguity in it,” Trump Jr. told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro. “There’s no ‘Hey, I’m hoping. You and I are friends. Hey, I hope this happens, but you’ve got to do your job.’ That’s what he told Comey.”

On Friday, however, the President flatly denied making those remarks to Comey or pressuring him to drop the investigation into Flynn, implicitly or otherwise.

“You said you hoped the Flynn investigation he could let go,” ABC News’ Jon Karl asked Trump during a press conference.

“I didn’t say that,” Trump interrupted.

“So he lied about that?” Karl asked, referring to Comey.

“Well, I didn’t say that,” Trump said. “And I mean I will you tell you I didn’t say that.”

But, he added, “There would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I’ve read today, but I did not say that.”

Trump Jr. on Saturday claimed that “everything that went on in the Comey testimony was basically ridiculous.”

“For this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, ‘oh, I felt,’ he felt so threatened, he felt that — but he didn’t do anything!” Trump Jr. said.

Comey’s blockbuster testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, however, prompted Trump to offer to do the same.

Trump Turns Ire At Leakers Against Comey, Suggests There Is More To Come

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis, speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that there are more revelations to come from fired FBI Director James Comey, and questioned their legality.

“I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible,” Trump tweeted early Sunday morning. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!'”

Trump made similar remarks on Friday in another early morning tweet where he labeled Comey a “leaker,” referring to Comey’s decision to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press via a friend.

Comey revealed that decision during his testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he painted Trump as a liar and testified that Trump tried to obtain a loyalty pledge from the former FBI head and pushed him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump on Friday said he was “100 percent” willing to match Comey and testify under oath to contradict Comey’s testimony.

Jeff Sessions Pushes Back On Parts Of Comey’s Testimony

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, left, talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A spokesman for Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Thursday pushed back on several aspects of James Comey’s Senate testimony after the former FBI director raised new questions about Sessions’ actions before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation of Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

Comey’s testimony touched on Sessions at several points. He hinted that the FBI was aware of information that led the bureau to believe Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia probe weeks before he actually did so, and reportedly told senators in a subsequent closed session that Sessions may have met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. on a third occasion that the attorney general had not disclosed.

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Trump Claims ‘Vindication’ After Comey Rakes Him Over Coals

President Donald Trump announces the approval of a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, clearing the way for the $8 billion project, Friday, March 24, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The morning after former FBI Director James Comey delivered blockbuster testimony in the Senate in which he painted President Donald Trump as a liar and said that the President pressured him to quash a probe into Michael Flynn, Trump published a tweet declaring “vindication.”

Trump published his tweet shortly after 6 a.m. on Friday morning, during the time frame when he typically shares his thoughts on Twitter.

He referenced “false statements and lies,” appearing to accuse Comey of lying under oath.

Trump also labeled Comey a “leaker,” referencing Comey’s decision to get a friend to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press, a revelation the former FBI director shared on Thursday during with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Is Trump Under Federal Scrutiny NOW? Comey Testimony Leaves Door Open

President Donald Trump meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

James Comey testified Thursday that he was “stunned” by requests President Donald Trump made to curtail federal investigations related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and thought the President’s remarks were of investigative interest— and it seems other senior FBI officials agree.

Though the ousted FBI director did not go as far as accusing Trump of attempting to obstruct justice, Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee offered the clearest indication yet that the President may already be under scrutiny for exactly that.

Part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s job is to “sort that out,” Comey said, dismissing questions from the assembled senators on whether he personally believed Trump obstructed justice. His testimony made the case for why he felt “sure” that Mueller would look into the multiple one-on-one conversations that Trump requested of his then-FBI director.

Comey says Trump asked him to quash the FBI’s investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn in one Feb. 14 exchange in the Oval Office. In a March 30 phone call, Comey says Trump requested that he lift the “cloud” that the Russia probe was casting over his administration.

“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the President was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said of the Feb. 14 meeting. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.”

Importantly, Comey noted that Trump asked other senior officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to clear the room before initiating the conversation about the Flynn probe. He noted those officials hesitated before complying.

“Why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office?” Comey said. “That, to me as an investigator, is a very significant fact.”

Senior FBI officials briefed on that conversation said it was “of investigative interest” to determine the intent of Trump’s statements about Flynn, Comey testified.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe made similar remarks in separate testimony before the committee on Wednesday, telling Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) that it was “accurate” to assume that Comey’s private conversations with Trump either already are or are “likely to become part of a criminal investigation.”

These loaded comments apparently did not trouble Trump’s legal team or his defenders on Capitol Hill, who insisted that Comey’s testimony actually vindicated the President. They noted that, as Trump previously said, Comey confirmed that he informed Trump on three separate occasions that the President was not the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.

Republican lawmakers, the White House and Trump’s own family members also argued that the President was merely looking out for the interest of Flynn, a longtime adviser, and never explicitly ordered Comey to end any investigation. Those defenders neglected to mention that Comey testified that a senior FBI official cautioned him against telling Trump he was not a part of the federal investigation, because that person believed that “inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope.”

Whether Trump requested or ordered that Comey drop the investigation into Flynn is an irrelevant semantic distinction. As Comey testified, Trump asked him to swear “loyalty” and repeatedly brought up the status of his job in their conversations, leaving the former FBI director with the impression that his continued tenure at the bureau was “contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.”

He did not comply with Trump’s requests and was fired only four months into Trump’s term. By the President’s own admission, Comey was dismissed because of the “Russia thing.”

“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified. “That is a very big deal.”

Schiff: ‘Hard To Overstate The Significance’ Of Comey Testimony

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks after a closed meeting on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday that it was “hard to overstate the significance” of fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose committee is leading its own investigation into Russian election meddling, wrote in a statement responding to Comey’s testimony that it “constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more.”

Read Schiff’s full statement below:

“Today, former FBI Director James Comey testified that the President of the United States demanded his loyalty, and directed him to drop a criminal investigation into his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Director Comey further testified that he believes President Trump ultimately fired him in order to alter the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation. It is difficult to overstate the significance of this testimony.

“These discussions and others took place in one-on-one telephone conversions and meetings initiated by the President, or after the President cleared the room of other people. Director Comey wrote memoranda about his conversations with President Trump because he was worried that the President and his Administration would misrepresent them.

“In my view, this testimony constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more. It will be important for Congress to obtain evidence to corroborate this testimony — the memoranda, certainly, as well as any tapes, if they exist. We should also interview those around Director Comey at the time of these contacts, to get their contemporaneous impressions of his conversations with the President and to supplement his testimony. Finally, we cannot accept the refusal of Directors Rogers and Coats to answer questions about whether they were asked to intervene with Comey on the Flynn case or any related matter. Similarly, we will need to ask Director Pompeo the same questions. These additional steps are vital to determining the ultimate significance of the President’s actions.”

Dem Senator To Question Sessions Tuesday About Comey Allegations

A routine budget hearing in the Senate next week featuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions took on heightened importance following ousted FBI Director James Comey’s explosive Thursday testimony, which raised questions about what Sessions did both before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

At least one member of the Appropriations Committee, Vice Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), plans to use next week’s budget hearing as an opportunity to grill Sessions about Russia, Comey and President Donald Trump. “I have many important questions for him to answer,” he said in a statement.

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Here’s What We Learned From James Comey’s Blockbuster Testimony

Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

During his feverishly-anticipated testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, ousted FBI Director James Comey made a host of major revelations about his handling of President Donald Trump and the federal investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election in the months before he was abruptly fired in May.

Importantly, Comey disclosed new information about actions he took when he became concerned about the Trump administration’s attempts to establish a “patronage” relationship with him and persuade him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Here’s an overview of some of the most significant moments from the hearing, where Comey revealed exactly what steps he took and why he took them.

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Comey Repeatedly Emphasized The Gravity Of Russia’s Election Meddling

Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Throughout his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey repeatedly stressed the serious implications of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. He argued that the issue of Russian meddling it not about politics, but about the credibility of the American government.

Toward the beginning of the hearing, Comey said that he has no doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election and that Russian government officials were aware of the meddling.

He later stressed that Russian interference is very real, countering President Donald Trump’s constant dismissals of the Russia probe.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) asked Comey about the way Trump has discussed Russia’s election meddling, noting that the President has described Russian interference “as a hoax and as fake news.” In response, Comey stressed that there’s no doubt that the Russian government tried to interfere in the 2016 election and that the conclusion on Russia’s actions is “about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of the government. There is no fuzz on that,” Comey said.

“It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community — and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence — it’s not a close call,” he continued. “That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get and is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. Because this is about America, not about any particular party.”

Asked if it was a “hostile act by the Russian government,” Comey replied, “Yes.”

Later in his testimony, Comey emphasized that Russia’s attempt to meddle in the election is a threat to the United States and should rise above politics. He delivered a passionate monologue about just how grave a threat Russia’s meddling is to America.

“The reason this is such a big deal is we have this big, messy, wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for, except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful,” Comey said. “But we’re talking about a foreign government that — using technical intrusion, lots of other methods — tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act.”

“That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally,” he continued. “They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. And so they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about. And they will be back, because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other — we remain that shining city on the hill and they don’t like it.”

The former FBI director also noted that Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election was part of an ongoing effort targeted at the U.S.

“It’s a long-term practice of theirs. It stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He stressed that the probe into Russian election meddling is also about prevention of future attacks, saying that Russia is not a threat to any one political party, but to the country as a whole.

Comey also addressed some of the details of the the FBI’s investigation into Russian hacking attempts. He said there was a “massive” effort to target government agencies and non-governmental groups, estimating that hundreds, possibly around 1,000, entities were targeted. He also said that the FBI never examined the hardware that was hacked at the Democratic National Committee’s, but that the FBI got the information they needed from a third party.

McCain On His Comey Questions: Maybe I Shouldn’t Stay Up Late For Baseball

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Thursday reflected ruefully on his questions to fired FBI Director James Comey during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said in a statement. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”

McCain said he wanted to find out whether Comey believed “that any of his interactions with the President rise to the level of obstruction of justice.”

“While I missed an opportunity in today’s hearing, I still believe this question is important, and I intend to submit it in writing to Mr. Comey for the record,” he said.

Trump’s Lawyer: President Didn’t Pressure Comey To Drop Flynn Probe

Marc Kasowitz personal attorney of President Donald Trump  makes a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2017.    (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Responding to fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer denied that Trump pressured Comey to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“[T]he President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including — the President never suggested that Mr. Comey quote, let Flynn go, close quote,” Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s lawyer, said at a press briefing Thursday, reading from prepared remarks.

He later addressed Comey’s written recollection that the President had asked for his “loyalty.”

“The President also never told Mr. Comey, quote, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty, close quote. He never said it in form, and he never said it in substance,” Kasowitz said.

But, Kasowitz  hedged, “Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration.”

Kasowitz’s focus, it seemed, was on Comey’s admission that he had given his written recollection of a meeting with Trump to a friend of his, and had asked the friend to provide the New York Times with the information.

“[F]rom before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications,” Kasowitz said. “Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.”

He added later: “We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated.”

Read Kasowitz’s full prepared remarks here.

Comey’s Testimony Casts President Trump As An Untrustworthy Liar

Former FBI Director James Comey’s characteristically measured testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee communicated one fact clearly: he doesn’t think much of the current President of the United States.

Over and over during his three-hour-long appearance, Comey painted Donald Trump as a free-wheeling, habitually untruthful commander-in-chief with little respect for the independence of the FBI.

Trump himself has taken gleeful potshots at Comey, tweeting in the days after he removed Comey as FBI director that he had “lost the confidence” of both Republicans and Democrats and denigrated the “spirit and prestige of the FBI.” He also reportedly told senior Russian officials that Comey was “crazy, a real nut job,” who was insistent on pursuing an investigation into their interference in the 2016 election.

Now a private citizen, and knowing the eyes of Americans all over the country were on his testimony, Comey made his own personal views on Trump explicit.

[Read More]

Dem Senator: Trump Should Follow Comey’s Example And Testify Under Oath

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Thursday said President Donald Trump should match fired FBI Director James Comey and testify under oath and in public.

Following Comey’s appearance in an open session before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Murphy released a statement saying it was “hard to overstate the impact” of Comey’s testimony.

“If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the President’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” Murphy said.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of Jim Comey’s testimony today. For the first time, under oath and penalty of perjury, the former FBI Director testified that the president repeatedly pressed him for a pledge of loyalty, and asked him to drop the investigation into illegal activity of a White House staffer at the center of the Russia probe. A couple months later, after neither request was fulfilled, Trump fired him,” said Murphy. “That confirms that media reports aren’t ‘fake news’ – they’re very real and very concerning.”

“Every day, it seems like the walls are closing in on this president. What’s most important is that investigators in the Senate and at the Department of Justice get all the facts and find the truth. If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the president’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” added Murphy.

Ryan ‘Not Saying It’s An Acceptable Excuse’ That Trump Is ‘New At This’

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained fired FBI Director James Comey’s claim that President Donald Trump asked him to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by saying that “The President’s new at this.”

“He’s new to government. And so, he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” Ryan said, asked about Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee at his weekly press conference Thursday.

“You said the President is new at this, he’s not steeped in the long-running protocols,” one reporter followed up later in the briefing. “He has a staff. He has a White House counsel. Why is that an acceptable excuse for him?”

“I’m not saying it’s an acceptable excuse. It’s just my observation,” Ryan said.

“So there’s nothing — is this something that should be corrected?” the reporter asked.

“He’s new at government, and so therefore I think that he — he is learning as he goes,” Ryan responded.

Repeatedly, Ryan said that he now knew why Trump was “frustrated” by stories on Russian meddling.

Still, when pressed, he wouldn’t definitively say whether Trump’s behavior was appropriate.

“I’m not going to comment on these things,” he said, asked for his opinion on the matter. “Because these are all apart of these ongoing investigations and I’m not gonna prejudge this stuff, because what I don’t want to do is — in the middle of a House Intelligence Committee investigation, a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, and now an independent counsel — is to speculate on the day-to-day intrigue of all of these issues.”

NY Times Looking Into Story Comey Agreed Was ‘Almost Completely Wrong’

The New York Times on Thursday said it is “looking into” reporting that fired FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee is inaccurate.

Sen. James Risch (R-ID) on Thursday cited a February report by the New York Times that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence officials before the 2016 election.

“That report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?” he asked.

“In the main, it was not true,” Comey replied. “The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is that people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking about it.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Comey, “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?”

“Yes,” Comey replied.

“Did you have at the time that story was published any indication of any contact between Trump people and Russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the Russian government?” Cotton pressed.

“That’s one I can’t answer sitting here,” Comey said.

He did not specify how much of the story was inaccurate, or which allegations were untrue.

Comey: Trump ‘Pulled Up Short’ When He Remembered I Didn’t Pledge Loyalty (VIDEO)

Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Fired FBI Director James Comey on Thursday speculated that President Donald Trump came up short in April when he sought leverage to persuade Comey to publicly announce that Trump was not under investigation.

In his prepared testimony released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said Trump told him in April: “I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.”

Comey said he did not respond or ask Trump to clarify.

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Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Donald Trump, was in the room for Thursday’s hearing with former FBI Director James Comey.

Comey: I Was Fired In Order To Influence Probe Into Russian Election Meddling (VIDEO)

Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Fired FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he thinks he was fired to influence the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired in some way to change or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

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Comey: ‘I’m Not Going To Sit Here And Try To Interpret The President’s Tweets’

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI): “The President tweeted that ‘James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press.’ Was that rather unsubtle attempt to intimidate you from testifying and intimidate anyone else who seriously crosses his path of not doing it?”

Comey: “I’m not going to sit here and try to interpret the President’s tweets. To me its major impact, was as I said, it occurred to me in the middle of the night: Holy cow, there might be tapes. And if there are tapes, it’s not just my word against his on the direction to get rid of the Flynn investigation.”

Watch below:

This Is How Comey Says Sessions Reacted To His Ask Not To Be Left Alone With POTUS (VIDEO)

James Comey on Thursday described how Jeff Sessions reacted when he told him that he cannot be left alone with President Donald Trump.

Comey made the comments to Sessions after a Feb. 14 encounter in which he says Trump pressured him to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn, the ousted national security adviser. Comey wrote in his prepared statement that Sessions did not offer a verbal reply to his plea. On Thursday, Comey described Sessions’ body language after he told the attorney general that he and Trump cannot be alone together.

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Comey: Flynn Was Under Investigation For Potentially Misleading FBI (VIDEO)

Fired FBI Director James Comey confirmed that ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was under investigation for potentially misleading investigators.

When Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) first asked about Flynn, Comey noted “I don’t think I can talk about that in an open setting. And again, I’ve been out of government now about a month so I also don’t want to talk about things when it’s now somebody else’s responsibility but maybe in the classified setting we can talk more about that.”

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