Trump’s jeopardy

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You never want to be the subject of a federal investigation.  Even if they can’t pin the crime they are investigating on you, they can convict you for your conduct during the investigation.  Remember Martha Stewart?  She was investigated for an illegal stock sale.  But there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that.  Nevertheless, she was sent to prison for obstructing the investigation.  Same with Scooter Libby, who was investigated for leaking information about CIA agent Valerie Plame.  That couldn’t be proven.  But Libby was convicted for lying to an FBI agent during the investigation.

David French is a major conservative critic of Donald Trump, but he doesn’t think he colluded with the Russians.  As an attorney, though, he warns Trump that he needs to be careful.  Offering to testify under oath about Come, for example, was not wise.  French brings up the Stewart and Libby examples and discusses the areas in which Trump is vulnerable.  No attorney, he observes, wants a client “who won’t stop talking.” [Read more…]

The Comey show

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James Comey, the FBI director fired by President Trump, was interrogated in a congressional committee in a much-hyped event that gives ammunition to both Trump’s critics and his defenders.

Comey agreed that Trump was not under criminal investigation, that the Russian probe is a counter-intelligence matter.  MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews, a liberal who is no fan of Trump, said that the “collusion theory”–that Trump and his campaign had been conspiring with the Russians to throw the election–“comes apart” with Comey’s testimony.

We also learned that the leaker of Comey’s notes on his meetings with Trump was Comey himself.

But Comey also detailed Trump’s efforts to get him to stop the investigation of fired national security director Michael Flynn.  The obstruction of justice accusation is still very much alive.

What we mostly learned from Comey’s testimony–as he talked about Trump’s harangues, Trump’s “lying” about him, and the “awkward silence” when Trump demanded his loyalty–is what it’s like to work under a difficult boss that you don’t like and don’t respect.

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Trump son-in-law tried to set up secret communications with Russia?

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President Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner (Ivanka’s husband) talked to the Russian ambassador about setting up a secret communications channel linking the transition team with Moscow.  The technology would be through the Russian embassy.

U.S. intelligence intercepted dispatches from Ambassador Sergey Kislyak telling his superiors about the talks.  So reports the Washington Post.

Could Jared be the mole in the White House?  He wouldn’t be the leaker, since he wouldn’t have leaked this or other information about the Russian investigations.  And this could not have been just his doing.  Michael Flynn, since fired as the president’s national security advisor for his Russian associations, was also at the meeting.  And the channel was to be for the “transition team.”

I grew up up during the Cold War, with all of its worries about Russia infiltrating our government and trying to take us over.  I’ve also read too many spy novels.  But this is all exceedingly troubling. [Read more…]

Trump tried to get intelligence officials to deny collusion

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More comes out about President Trump interfering in the investigation of Russian connections with his campaign.

He asked the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the Director of the National Security Agency, Michael Rogers, separately to deny publicly that any collusion took place.

Both refused the request as inappropriate.

Dan Coats is the former Republican senator from Indiana whom Trump appointed to his position.

In related news, former CIA director John Brennan testified before a Congressional Committee that Russia “brazenly interfered with the 2016 election” and that he briefed Congressional leaders about this in August.  He also talked with his counterpart in Russian intelligence, warning him about the consequences of their “aggressive” actions.  Read what he says about Russian attempts to win over individuals after the jump (and after the Trump story).

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