December 17, 2017, 11:04 am

Behind the new faux controversy over Mueller getting Trump transition emails is a key and probably too little discussed aspect of the Russia story: Mueller’s team has some of the most accomplished and aggressive prosecutors and legal minds of their generation. They’re facing off against a team of has-beens, 3rd or 4th rate lawyers and in some cases simple incompetents. Why? Because Trump values sycophancy above competence and because none of the top lawyers were willing to work for him. 

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-Josh Marshall
December 15, 2017, 7:53 pm

I think we’re seeing signs that the ground is being laid to fire Bob Mueller and end all investigations into President Trump and Russia. I’m not saying it will happen or that the effort will be successful. But the effort is clearly afoot. Here are the indications (sub req.) as I see them.

-Josh Marshall
December 15, 2017, 4:30 pm

A few moments ago, Rep. Adam Schiff made a point on MSNBC which I think is critical and has been too little noted.

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-Josh Marshall
December 15, 2017, 3:41 pm

When you’re this openly demanding that senior FBI officials be fired, you know the move to the purge is well underway. This is very dangerous stuff. All about giving President Trump impunity from the rule of law.

-Josh Marshall
December 15, 2017, 12:43 pm

Poll: Most people think Trump illegally or unethically colluded with Russia.

-Josh Marshall
December 15, 2017, 11:08 am

There’s no downward limit on President Trump’s immigrant bashing and racism. But I want you to listen to this riff. It’s astonishing coming from a US president.

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-Josh Marshall
December 15, 2017, 11:04 am
President Donald Trump speaks before a hosting a lunch with Senate Republicans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The extraordinary comments this morning from President Trump – even though they have become par for the course from him – remain extraordinary. He castigated the FBI and dismissed the Russia collusion investigation that the FBI is conducting as a “scam.” He made the remarks to reporters he was leaving the White House to … address the FBI at Quantico.

The key sections (transcript via White House):

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-David Kurtz
December 15, 2017, 10:16 am

I mentioned a number of the times the close-knit, half-law-&-order, half one step ahead of the law New York City/GOP world without which it’s basically impossible to understand Donald Trump. It’s the Trump world, the Rudy world, the Ailes world and a slew of other mini-tycoons and sometimes politicians who’ve built a certain sort of clannish, often incestuous and uniquely authoritarian-leaning GOP that could only exist in what is one of the richest and also most liberal cities in the world. Allegra Kirkland captures it here in just one paragraph of her look at “Judge Jeanine” Pirro.

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-Josh Marshall
December 14, 2017, 7:59 pm

President Trump spoke today with President Putin. From the White House readout …

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia

President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin of Russia today. President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference.

The two presidents also discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea.

This was an apparent reference to Putin telling an end of the year press conference that the success of the stock market and ongoing economic growth was a sign of the power of President Trump’s stewardship of the economy. This was apparently the main thing they talked about on the phone.

-Josh Marshall
December 14, 2017, 5:41 pm

In recognition of a truly landmark year of stunning scandals and betrayals of the public trust, it’s time to unveil TPM’s nominees for the 11th Annual Golden Dukes!

These awards are named in honor of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, whose enormous bribery schemes made him the poster boy for modern scandal (well, for now). Every year, we select the most outrageous moments of corruption and general dipshittery in this fine nation’s political arena to see who has raised the bar for utter shamelessness.

Last year, we said 2016 would make Duke proud. This year, he may have actually found his heroes.

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-Cristina Cabrera
December 14, 2017, 2:10 pm
Attorney General Jeff Sessions accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, left, speaks at a news conference to announce an international cybercrime enforcement action at the Department of Justice, Thursday, July 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The general reaction to Rod Rosenstein’s testimony yesterday was that he did a decent, even patient job explaining to feral Republican lawmakers why there was no reason to consider removing Bob Mueller from his post. Indeed, he said, it was difficult to think of anyone more qualified to serve in the position. But I want to direct your attention to a deeply disturbing aspect of yesterday’s hearing.

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-Josh Marshall
December 14, 2017, 12:08 pm
UNITED STATES - APRIL 26: Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., conducts a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on April 26, 2017. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., also appear. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There was a fascinating moment in Paul Ryan’s press conference a few moments ago. It was quick and tucked into a conversation about “entitlement reform.” But it was bracingly specific. Ryan noted that to avoid steep cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare, American women will need to start having more babies. Here’s the video.

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-Josh Marshall
December 14, 2017, 9:07 am
With friends and family standing behind him, Kentucky State Rep., Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, regarding allegations that he sexually abused a teenager after a New Year's party in 2013, in Louisville, Ky. Johnson says a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2013 has no merit and he will not resign. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

This is the most surreal and dark story. An outfit called the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting earlier this week published an incredibly lengthy and detailed expose of a Kentucky state representative named Danny Ray Johnson. Last night, moments before I started writing this post on a train home from Washington, Johnson was found on a bridge with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. This was a day after defiantly protesting his innocence and refusing to resign his office.

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-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 10:39 pm

There it is. Democrat Doug Jones defeats Roy Moore to become the next Senator from the State of Alabama.

-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 10:21 pm

My talent on night’s like this isn’t understanding the details returns numbers. It’s closely watching the people who do. But looking at the map right now, it’s hard for me to see how Roy Moore wins this. At this moment it’s 85% reporting and an exact tie. But looking at the counties, virtually all the remaining votes are in big Democratic cities. They have substantial numbers of votes left to count and most of those big cities have big lopsided Doug Jones margins. In a couple they’re closer but still with Jones ahead.

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-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 10:08 pm

Still a complicated picture. But you’d rather be Jones right now than Moore. The current results have Moore up by a bit more than 1 point with 81% of the precincts reporting. The good news for Jones is that it’s mostly blue territory left to report – mainly the big urban conglomerations. What’s keeping Jones in this race and with a seeming advantage is big turnout in heavily African-American areas.

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-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 9:43 pm

We have a complicated picture so far but one that seems more favorable to Doug Jones than to Roy Moore. There is some evidence that traditionally blue parts of the state are over-performing in turnout terms while red areas are underperforming. Just how much that’s the case and whether more returns will muddy that apparent pattern we don’t yet know.

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-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 9:24 pm

As I mentioned below, the NYT has a very sophisticated realtime prediction widget that shifts its prediction as results come in. It had been bouncing around dead even with a mild advantage either way. Then it swung hard in Jones’ favor. I saw a number of people speculate that there had been some sort of reporting error. Here’s a tweet just now from a member of the team that runs it.

I would treat this as a tentative read, subject to change. What it points to is dramatic enough that it could be a reporting error or just a quirk in the prediction model. I am, however, seeing some indications of something we saw in Virginia: both candidates getting solid percentages from their strong regions but with Moore getting slightly weaker turnout. As always we need more data. But for the moment things look better for Jones than for Moore.

9:29 PM: This is starting to come into focus: differential turnout. Moore’s winning the red areas, and often with the percentages you’d expect. And vice versa. But turnout is a bit weaker in the red areas and a bit stronger in the blue areas. Frankly, you can’t say that’s a totally unpredictable outcome with motivated Democratic base and a Republican candidate who has been credibly accused of preying on teenager girls.

-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 8:49 pm

8:46 PM: We only have a tiny number of votes reported so far. But even these allow us to compare results in a few places to historical baselines. And they seem encouraging for Doug Jones. I would say that based on these very limited results there are enough good indications to make a Jones’ win plausible. Not saying probable necessarily. But we are not seeing the kind of totals that tell you, “Okay, he’s just not going to be able to do this.”

8:49 PM: It looks like this could be a long night.

8:55 PM: Latest numbers are a bit friendlier to Moore. But still extremely close. Anything could happen, etc.

8:59 PM: One major takeaway so far – and we still have less than 10% of the vote in – is that there aren’t a ton of write-ins, at least not relative to an extremely Republican state in which by many customary standards the GOP nominee would be an unacceptable alternative.

9:03 PM: A standard pattern we’re now seeing play out: earlier reporting is from white rural counties. The more Democratic and African-American cities come in later. But they’re now starting to come in a bit more.

9:05 PM: Takeaway from the early returns is that they’ve swung back and forth. But ‘swung’ only in the sense of indications of an extremely close race which have swung from a sliver of an advantage for one candidate to the other. I have basically no idea what’s going to happen.

-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 8:31 pm

So here we are. Only a trickle of results in so far. But we’ve seen enough early data to sense we’ve at least got a genuine race on our hands. TPM’s Cam Joseph is in Montgomery. The TPM team is at its workstations. I’m actually on a train. But as long as this train wifi holds out we’re doing this thing.

8:37 PM: So a few things I’m watching. The New York Times has a little widget that updates its predictions as data comes in. I watch it pretty closely. Right now it’s pointing to a minuscule Jones advantage. I also have a twitter list of people who are serious election night data/number crunchers. Certainly others who aren’t on my list. But these are all people I trust to help me understand the rush of numbers. Here’s the link.

8:40 PM: Only thing I think I’m comfortable saying so far is that Jones is making a very strong run in the state for a Democrat. Of course, the bar is low and the Republican is so bad Republicans considering trying to call off the election only few weeks ago. Still, this is a very, very Republican state.

-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 7:39 pm

TPM’s Cameron Joseph is in Montgomery at the Roy Moore election night event. You can follow him on Twitter, and stick around with us through the evening. Anyone’s guess in a very unpredictable race.

-David Kurtz
December 12, 2017, 3:46 pm

Sarah Sanders responds to criticism of Trump sexual innuendo about Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (video after the jump) …

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-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 9:13 am

I wanted to add a point about Donald Trump’s pretty transparent sexualized attack on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The attack speaks for itself. But there’s a less disgraceful but also revealing subtext, one which President Trump returns to again and again.

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-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 8:50 am

Any thoughts on what this line means?

-Josh Marshall
December 12, 2017, 8:01 am

Tellingly, it’s in a statement to Mike Allen at Axios. Trump’s television lawyer, Jay Sekulow, says the Trump team now demands a new Special Counsel to investigate the Mueller probe and the DOJ for anti-Trump bias. This is a parallel path to the attacks on the press. What is true for Trump characterologically is true of his movement ideologically: accept no independent centers of power.

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-Josh Marshall
December 11, 2017, 10:30 pm

Roy Moore’s wife Kayla appeared quite sure that she’d decisively put to rest the charges of anti-Semitism once and for all. Watch.

-David Kurtz
December 11, 2017, 3:59 pm

Back on Friday, CNN’s Manu Raju made a major error in a report on emails tied to Wikileaks and Donald Trump Jr. As we discussed Friday afternoon, the nature of the error turned on the date of the email in question – September 4th versus September 14th. CNN had multiple sources read or describe the email to its reporter. But later in the afternoon, The Washington Post obtained the actual email, which was clearly dated the 14th. As noted, the difference was much more than the date. CNN corrected the story and had some pretty significant egg on its face.

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-Josh Marshall
December 11, 2017, 11:01 am
Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, greets supporter Patricia Jones, right, before his election party, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The most illuminating poll discussion I’ve seen about Alabama is a SurveyMonkey report showing that small differences in how they weighted their sample and modeled the electorate generated outcomes ranging from an 8 point win for Jones to a 9 point win for Moore. This is more the norm than you might imagine once you look under the hood of a lot of polling. But this is magnified greatly for this race because of several very hard to predict factors.

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-Josh Marshall
December 11, 2017, 10:42 am

Our friend Josh Green has a report out this morning about the resurrection of Roy Moore’s candidacy. Remember that only a few weeks ago Republicans were so determined to end Moore’s campaign that they were seriously debating canceling the election and trying other ploys to prevent Moore from entering the Senate no matter what. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow night. But Josh is right that the tide has turned dramatically. The President is full-force endorsing. The RNC is back in formal support. Fox News is maniacally on board.

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-Josh Marshall
December 10, 2017, 2:33 pm

I had missed this. But it’s a significant development. Sen. Lindsey Graham has oscillated between being a fierce Trump critic to being increasingly supportive of the President. But he now seems to have moved firmly into the Trump loyalist camp.

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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.

[Read More]

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.”

[Read More]

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.

[Read More]

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.”

[Read More]