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Comey effectively admits Trump did not obstruct justice

CNN story shows that former FBI Director Comey can point to no action by President Trump that could constitute interference in the conduct of the Russiagate inquiry.

Alexander Mercouris

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CNN has published a rather odd report in which it says that former FBI Director Comey “now believes” that Donald Trump tried to influence the Russiagate inquiry, but that he clearly does not think this amounted to an obstruction of justice

Former FBI Director James Comey now believes that President Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment about the Russia probe, a person familiar with his thinking says, but whether that influence amounts to obstruction of justice remains an open question.

“You have to have intent in order to obstruct justice in the criminal sense,” the source said, adding that “intent is hard to prove.”
(bold italics added)
The words “now believes” are the giveaway, since they show that Comey did not think Trump was trying to influence him whilst he was actually in charge of the Russiagate inquiry, and did not think this until after Trump had fired him.  Indeed a later part of the same CNN report – which is obviously sourced from Comey – says as much
Comey’s view of Trump’s intent in their conversations is nuanced, sources say. He initially believed that he could school the new President and White House in what was appropriate during their communications.  But after his firing, the question of Trump’s intent could become more problematic, one source said. Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview that he was thinking “of the Russia thing” when he dismissed Comey.   Sources say Comey had reached no conclusion about the President’s intent before he was fired. But Comey did immediately recognize that the new President was not following normal protocols during their interactions.
(bold italics added)
This shows quite clearly that Trump at no point directly interfered in the Russiagate inquiry.
In light of that there was and could have been no ‘obstruction of justice’ – a problematic concept anyway given that the Russiagate inquiry is a counter-espionage inquiry not a criminal inquiry – since Trump obviously did nothing which could have amounted to an obstruction of justice.  As I have already pointed out, the wording of Comey’s attendance note of his meeting with Trump on 14th February 2017 – even if it is an accurate record of what Trump said (which for the record, I think it is) – does not show an obstruction of justice.
As for Comey’s speculations after Trump fired him of what Trump’s intentions might have been, in the absence of any action by Trump to interfere in the inquiry these speculations are or should be neither here nor there.  This is quite apart from the fact that speculations about the boss’s intentions by an aggrieved former employee who has just been fired are not normally given much weight.
Anyway this CNN story strongly suggests that Comey’s attendance notes of his meetings with Trump contain no ‘smoking gun’, and that those who are looking forward to them in the hope that they do are going to be disappointed.
I would add that Comey’s deputy FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has already said that there was no interference by Trump or anyone else in the Russiagate inquiry, so in a sense the CNN story tells us nothing we do not already know.
There are however two further points which can be made about this CNN story.
Firstly, it seems Comey is saying that he was distinctly uncomfortable about his meetings with Trump, and that he tried to explain this to Trump, and pressed Trump not to speak to him directly but to go through the normal Justice Department channels.
If so then Comey was absolutely right to feel this way and to tell Trump this.  As I have previously said, Trump was extremely unwise and arguably wrong to meet with Comey at all whilst the Russiagate inquiry was underway, and if the CNN story is true then Comey tried unsuccessfully to point this out to him.
However it has to be said that Comey himself is also open to criticism here.
If Comey felt it was inappropriate for him to meeting Trump (the CNN story says he was “disgusted” on one occasion when Trump hugged him) then he should have simply refused to meet with Trump, as he was perfectly entitled to do.  He should also in that case have sent a written memo setting out his reasons for not meeting Trump both to Trump himself and to the Justice Department.
There is nothing in the CNN story to suggest that Comey ever wrote or sent such a memo – as there presumably would be if he did – and nothing to suggest Comey ever refused to meet with Trump despite his alleged concerns.  On the contrary the CNN story claims Comey willingly continued to meet with Trump in order to “train” him as to what the ‘proper procedures’ were
Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of the Lawfare blog and a Comey friend, writes that Comey called his interactions with Trump “training” in order to “re-establish” appropriate boundaries. In his conversations, Wittes writes, “Comey never specifically said this was about the Russia matter” but he assumed that it was. Comey saw his job, Wittes writes, as an effort to “protect the rest of the bureau from improper contacts and interferences from a group of people he did not regard as honorable.”
If so then this was wholly inappropriate.  It is not the FBI Director’s job to “train” the President, and it is not an excuse for having inappropriate contacts with the President that the FBI Director was trying to do this.
As for trying to “protect the rest of the bureau from improper contacts and interferences from a group of people he did not regard as honorable”, the correct way for Comey to have done that was as I have said to set out the ground rules and his concerns in writing in  memo circulated to both Trump and the Justice Department.  Certainly it was not to continue with person-to-person meetings with Trump which Comey felt were inappropriate.
I would add that as a lawyer and a former Deputy Attorney General, Comey ought to have been aware of all of this.  I would add that the sentiment attributed to Comey that some of the President’s people were not “honourable” suggests strong bias against them inappropriate on the part of an impartial investigator tasked with investigating them.
It may be that more information will come to light when Comey gives his evidence which will show his conduct in a better light.  I have to say however that for the moment all this talk about Comey trying to “train” the President looks to me like a desperate attempt by Comey to rationalise and excuse conduct which in hindsight he knows was inappropriate, and which has exposed him to criticism, perhaps from his nemesis, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The second point is that the CNN story once again shows how disastrously Trump has mishandled Comey’s dismissal.
Since Comey can apparently point to no action of Trump’s which shows interference in the conduct of the Russiagate inquiry, had Trump handled the dismissal properly by first showing Comey the Rosenstein memo and asking him to comment on it and possibly inviting for Comey’s resignation before he fired him, and if Trump had not foolishly told the media that he had the “Russia thing” in mind when he fired Comey, then the whole question of obstruction of justice would never have arisen.
As it is, entirely because of his own actions, Trump has given Comey arguments to make against him, even if as the CNN story shows they are poor arguments lacking in substance.
The result is that Trump must now look forward to the usual terrible headlines after Comey gives evidence, which he could have avoided if he had handled this differently.
On the strength of the CNN story there is nothing there which should however give him undue worry.

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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Brett Kavanaugh eleventh hour smear begins to fall apart (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Trump is urging the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh to testify and be heard.

Trump said he wants to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, noting that it would be “unfortunate” if she does not testify before a Senate committee. Trump told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina…

“If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”

“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that would be very interesting.”

From Trump’s lips to God’s ear…Blasey Ford came out to issue a statement essentially saying that she will not testify to Congress, either in an open or closed door session.

Furthermore it appears that Ford will not even allow Senate investigators to fly to California and obtain her statement from the comfort of her own home (as Senator Grassley has offered to do).

Ford is demanding an FBI investigation into an allegation with no date, time or place attached to it. 

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the dangerous game of identity politics being played by the establishment, Democrat left, and their mainstream media minions.

The premise that a four decades old accusation is all that is needed to destroy a person’s entire life, threatens to tear down the most basic foundational values adhered to from within the US Constitution, and propel the United States of America towards a fascist state where censorship, citizen surveillance, and evidence free accusations are used to keep the establishment left in power and the American population cowered in fear.

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According to Zerohedge, Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing.

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Senator Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Via the Hill…

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Via Zerohedge…

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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