I confess I’m as much entertained as surprised that Madison Cawthorn’s lawyer is taking this tack to defend his standing to serve in the House of Representatives. James Bopp Jr., a storied right-wing power lawyer, argues that Congress already issued a blanket amnesty to all insurrectionists back in 1872. So Madison is good to go in terms of serving in Congress. Bopp is granting — at least for the sake of argument — that Cawthorn did commit insurrection. It amounts to saying: ‘Congress already absolved young Mr. Cawthorn back during the Grant administration for any insurrections he might do. So whether he committed a rebellion against the United States last January is moot.’
As we know, Virginia’s new Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is working furiously to make good on his campaign promise to essentially make combatting Republican grievances, real and imagined, the top priority of the Virginia state government. We wrote recently about his reversal of the state’s universal masking policy for schools. He also moved to ban the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts” (read: “Critical Race Theory”) in public schools on Day One.
During an interview with conservative radio host John Fredericks earlier this week, Youngkin announced a new tip line his administration had set up, asking parents to notify the state government with reports of public teachers “behaving objectionably,” aka talking about race and systemic racism in the classroom, concepts that the GOP continues to squeeze beneath the ill-suited label “Critical Race Theory” — an academic framework that’s ruffled the right into hysterics in recent months.
“I know we all have fatigue, but we have to get through this and right now in Butler County, it’s off the hook. My attitude has changed immensely. I’ve had three employees in the sheriff’s office in the last few months die of COVID.” – Butler County (Ohio) Sheriff Richard Jones.
Multiple news organizations report that Justice Breyer plans to retire at the end of this term.
It’s important to note that this is good news. Or at least, as is often the case these days, it forestalls worse news, which in this case would be Breyer leaving the bench with the Senate in Republicans hands. It is a given today that a Republican senate would simply refuse to seat any Supreme Court nominee from a Democratic President. This sets up a high stakes nomination process which is likely to come down to how much game-playing we can expect from Senators Manchin and Sinema.
ACCORDING TO AXIOS, THE Emir of Qatar will meet with President Biden Monday at the White House in part to discuss contingency plans to supply natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia provides 40% of Europe’s natural gas needs. In addition to whatever possible interruption of supply might be caused by actual hostilities, gas supplies are a key lever Russia could use in any tit for tat of sanctions or economic hostilities that could follow a land invasion. The global economy is already struggling with pandemic driven supply chain woes and inflation which is driven in significant part by high energy prices. A cut off of fuel supply to Europe or more likely just a major price shock could wreak havoc on the global economy when it is already highly strained and vulnerable. Qatar is one of the world’s top producers of natural gas. So it’s uniquely positioned to ramp up supply to ward off or cushion any supply shocks.
But some Republicans are already using the Biden administration’s new, common sense decision to pour gasoline on their baseless federal overreach fights.
The Food and Drug Administration removed two monoclonal antibody therapies from its list of approved treatments for COVID-19 this week, at least temporarily. Citing clinical data, the FDA said in a statement that it has found two of the treatments “are highly unlikely to be active against the omicron variant, which is circulating at a very high frequency throughout the United States.” HHS sent out a letter to state officials this week, alerting them that the federal government would stop handing out the treatments made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly to states for now, according to the Washington Post which obtained a copy of the letter.
Matt Shuham’s article on the chaos unfolding in Texas right now is worth a read from beginning to end.
In short, in the wake of the state’s new voter restriction law, voters are confused and election administrators are overwhelmed. March primaries are approaching, and the Texas secretary of state’s office seems to be providing little in way of guidance.
For example: Houston’s elections administrators only learned of a key state database for voter information after an Austin official held a press conference to speak out in frustration. Another example: the secretary of state’s online instructions for absentee voters remained out of date until shortly after TPM contacted the office, asking about them.
I don’t want to get myself tagged as the guy who thinks Trump’s done. Far from it. I’m just pointing out what may be some fissures in the edifice. There’s one dimension I wanted to add. Everything Trump talks about now is in the past and about him: The Big Lie, Russia, Tony Fauci. When was the last time you heard him talk about the wall or crime or whatever other rightist nationalist applause lines? There are some. But not much. In a way this started in the earliest days of his Presidency when he became obsessed with how his 2016 victory wasn’t sufficiently appreciated, how the Russia probe was trying to steal it from him, etc.
THIS IS ONE OFthe most interesting Twitter threads I’ve read in some time. I’m sure it’s gotten lots of discussion in specialist circles. But it hasn’t been much a part of the general news coverage of COVID. Basically new strains of the flu tend to evolve from recent dominant strains. So people build up an immunity to the Flu A that was big last year and Flu A evolves into Flu B that might get a lot of people sick two or three years in the future. But COVID isn’t working that way, at least not so far. Omicron didn’t evolve from Delta. And Delta didn’t evolve from the Alpha, Beta or Gamma lineages, says Adam Kucharski.
Our most consistent failure of perception is the tendency to project the realities or trends of the present indefinitely out into the future — like with ex-President Trump. Most of us assume that the 2024 GOP nomination is Trump’s for the taking if he decides to run and that he will run. That’s still the best assumption and it’s my assumption. But over recent weeks and with a burst of commentary in recent days it’s no longer the only assumption. There are at least some cracks — seeming cracks? — in Trump’s hold and they center for now on Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.
The only two Republicans on the Jan. 6 Committee have responded to calls made by a member of their own party — Newt Gingrich — suggesting that they, and the rest of the panel, should be jailed for the committee’s investigative work.
At this point, it’s par for the course for Gingrich to traffic in Trumpian outrage, as Josh Marshall outlined here. But it’s also an illustration of the Republican Party’s ongoing divide and the ways in which the party as a whole has responded to the bombastic individual who commandeered it for his own ends.
Newt Gingrich, who is advising the House GOP leadership, is now threatening jail time for the members running the select committee investigation of the January 6th insurrection. “I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down,” Gingrich told Maria Bartiromo. “The wolves are gonna find out they’re now sheep, and they’re the ones who are, in fact, I think, going to face a real risk of going to jail for the kind of laws that they’re breaking.”
Amidst all the disappointment and tribulation of recent days please join me in taking a moment to step back, in a posture of mindful gratitude, to contemplate the fact that Kyrsten Sinema’s career in electoral politics is already over. Yes, the damage she’s already done will be difficult to remedy. She still has three solid years to do yet more damage. And she probably will. But none of that damage, none of the hijinks and characteristic game-playing to come, will or can change her electoral fate. In political terms, she’s already dead senator walking. And the most perplexing but paradoxically delightful part of it is that she doesn’t even seem to realize it yet.
How can I be so sure she’s a goner in such an uncertain time and in a reelection campaign almost three years away? It’s not just the increasingly likely primary challenge, which could end her Senate career on its own. Her problem runs much deeper. She has already made herself essentially unelectable, whether her quest for reelection ends in a primary or the general election.
It is hard to accept when you might actually be the real snowflake.
But that’s the bitter pill Florida Republicans find themselves having to swallow.
The latest news: Florida state Republicans just passed a bill — pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — that piles on an already-cemented state policy that bans the teaching of Critical Race Theory, and systemic racism-related issues, in Florida public schools.
This latest bill goes even further. It passed out of the Florida state legislature’s Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee this week by a 6-3 vote, per Orlando Weekly.
We have another ‘Stolen Infrastructure Valor’ All Star in the form of Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa. Hinson voted against the Bipartisan Biden Infrastructure Bill which passed late last year. In a press release from November 8th Hinson denounced the bill as a “socialist spending spree” and “Washington Gamesmanship, Spending at its Worst.” But she’s letting bygones be bygones. Or I guess she was just against it before she was for it. Because now Rep. Hinson seems to think it’s seriously awesome. And she’s bragging to constituents about almost a billion dollars she claims to have “secured” for upgrading locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River.
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a motion last night notifying the court it has found substantial evidence that the Trump Organization, helped along by the Trump children, used “fraudulent or misleading” information to secure financial loans and tax breaks for the company.
You’ve likely caught up on the basics of the news since it broke last night. Essentially James’ court filing details allegations about the ways in which her office believes members of the organization and the Trump family lied to tax officials and banks about the values of certain property assets for financial gain and tax benefits. The New York AG’s filing revealed the office is seeking subpoenas for testimony from the Donald himself, as well as his two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. She alleges that the two elder children had a hand in the valuation fudging.
We’re now watching the final parts moving into place as two Senate Democrats making a unmovable stand in favor of preserving the filibuster. You can see our live-blogging of the nitty gritty details here. I want to return to a more general point. Filibuster or no filibuster is not a binary choice. The current filibuster is the product of an incremental evolution over many decades. To the extent it matters, the framers of the constitution never envisaged anything like it. We know this because they included a few special cases where a super-majority would be required – for treaties, for removal from office, etc. If they thought it should be required for ordinary legislation they would have said so. But again, it’s not a binary choice.
I was scanning through my email this morning when I found this article from Roll Call rounding up what was new in ex-President Trump’s rally Saturday in Arizona. The claims about white people being replaced or deprived of COVID medications in favor of Blacks or Hispanics have gotten more focused and intense, which isn’t terribly surprising based on what I told you back on the 5th; efforts to stop “amplifying” Trump have largely allowed him to further radicalize without any scrutiny. But I really got interested after I read way down into the piece and saw that Trump is now explicitly exhorting his supporters to cheat in elections to counter Democrats’ (of course non-existent) cheating.
I hope you’ll take a moment to read this amazing piece by Josh Kovensky. In short, the Oath Keepers – the group at the center of the insurrection whose leaders were just charged with seditious conspiracy – got the idea for storming the Capitol from a Serbian scientist living in Europe who said that Trumpers could use the model of the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic to overturn the election of Joe Biden. It came in the form of a viral video and the Oath Keepers went from there.
Certainly the Oath Keepers didn’t need a lot of encouragement to get violent on behalf of Trump. But the viral video encouraging Trumpers to drive Biden from power like Milosevic seemed to coalesce their thinking into a plan of action and gave them a historical antecedent that showed the good guys winning. The Serbian scientist, Aleksandar Savic, relocated to Texas not long after Joe Biden’s inauguration and Josh Kovensky tracked him down for a conversation. Read it here.
School district officials who oversee hundreds of schools in Virginia are actively defying their new Republican governor’s efforts to tamp down COVID-19 mitigation measures in the state.
The backlash is similar to what we saw play out in Texas and Florida when Republican Govs. Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis enacted similar executive orders late last year, attempting to block individual schools and municipalities from creating their own policies for combatting the pandemic.
Make a note of this for future reference. Axios’s Sara Fischer notes that Al Jazeera seems to be sidelining or perhaps even shuttering “Rightly”. What’s that? It’s yet another right-leaning niche publication, launched in February of last year to “provide fresh voices that are too often left out of the mainstream media space.”
New York City was one of the first parts of the United States hit by the Omicron variant. The trajectory of the city’s surge now appears remarkably similar to the pattern we saw earlier in South Africa and other countries.
Data out of South Africa showed a roughly four week interval between the start of the Omicron surge and its peak. “Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two,” said Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council. “It was a flash flood more than a wave.”
New York City numbers appear to match this pattern almost exactly.
So many people are getting COVID, trying to figure out whether they have COVID or trying to figure out how long to isolate whether they have COVID or suspect they might. So I wanted to share with you some examples of positive and negative antigen tests. There’s nothing surprising or groundbreaking about what I’m going to show you. But it can just help to see some examples if you’re trying to make sense of this stuff in your own home, workplace or family.
These are six tests from a COVID infection that was antigen positive for 9 days.
The White House’s latest COVID-19 mitigation efforts are a contrast to the Supreme Court’s ruling today.
President Biden announced Thursday that his administration would double its previous promise to hand out free at-home COVID-19 tests, with plans to send out one billion to Americans’ homes. Along with that, the Biden administration will distribute N95 masks to the public as the country faces an unprecedented spike in COVID infections.
Biden is also deploying more military personnel to hospitals. Speaking from the White House the President said that next week he will send 1,000 military medics to hospitals across the country that have become overrun with patients dangerously sick with the coronavirus. The spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant has left the nation’s hospitals overburdened and short-staffed in recent weeks.
Biden didn’t mince his words in his address announcing the drastic moves.
Notwithstanding Sen. Sinema’s speechlet this afternoon I certainly hope they will still force a vote on the rules change itself. But another point occurs to me, one we’ve discussed before: there will never be another Democrat elected to the Senate who supports the current filibuster. This is obvious for a number of reasons. But I was reminded of it when I got a fundraising email from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) who’s running for the open Ohio Senate seat. Like you, I get a million of these. Ryan’s just one. But here’s how the email starts …
Newsflash: perfidious silly person Kysten Sinema has now told a friendly reporter at Politico that she’s “weighing” or “considering” or some other chin-scratch-full but meaningless gerund that she may go to the floor of the Senate and give a speech denouncing any changes to Senate rules that will allow Democrats thin majority to do anything. This as President Biden goes to the Senate to press his case for a rule change that will allow democracy-protecting legislation to come to a vote.
Kevin McCarthy has now refused to appear voluntarily before the select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. What’s important about this is that McCarthy is likely one of the few people with direct knowledge of Trump’s efforts to assist the insurrectionists as they were ransacking the Capitol building. According to numerous published reports, the ultimate source of which is almost certainly McCarthy himself, Trump told McCarthy in real time that he was barring the US military from stopping the insurrection in order to give his violent supporters time to ransack the Capitol and bring the official vote tabulation to a halt.
It may be the 21st century, but the QAnon congresswoman is urging folks to take up arms against their sea of troubles.
During a podcast interview with none other than the bombastic former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) loudly nodded at the “Second Amendment” as a solution to the far-right’s problems — in this case the “tyrannical government,” aka (for her) Democrats. Greene suggested Democratic lawmakers are currently doing exactly what the founders feared when James Madison proposed the inclusion of Second Amendment rights in the Constitution.
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.
Off message here for Trump Jr. Says his father did tell Comey he hoped he let the Flynn investigation go. His dad says that's a lie. pic.twitter.com/oOhaFgZY4a
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.
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.
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.
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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 Democratsand 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.
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.
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.”
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.
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is scheduled to respond to fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 1:30 p.m. ET. Watch live via NBC News.
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.
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.”
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.”
June 8, 2017, 12:30 pm
Asked if she could find out if there's a taping system at White House, @SHSanders45 quips: "Sure, I'll try to look under the couches."
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.
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.”