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James Comey – a necessary sacking

James Comey’s dismissal was a justifiable act sacking an incompetent FBI Director who botched the Hillary Clinton email investigation and who has disastrously mishandled the Russiagate probe

Alexander Mercouris

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It is curious to see Democrats, who had no good way to say for former FBI Director James Comey during the election because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton emails debacle, fiercely criticize his sacking which they are linking to Russiagate.

The White House denies Comey was sacked over Russiagate.  With hindsight Comey did make one serious error over the course of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.  This was not his decision to reopen the investigation in the run up to the election when some of Hillary Clinton’s emails were found in a computer in the possession of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Hillary Clinton aide and confidante Huma Abedin.  Rather it was his decision to announce the closure of the original investigation instead of leaving that to Loretta Lynch, Barack Obama’s Attorney General.

During his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Comey said he took this extraordinary step because Loretta Lynch had compromised herself by being seen talking in public to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband.  Whilst that might have been true, it is debatable whether it was wise or proper because of that for Comey to intervene.  Arguably he should have left the matter to Loretta Lynch and Barack Obama to sort out.

The matter is made worse because the decision to drop the investigation was arguably wrong and premature.  There appears to have been at least a case to answer and the decision whether or not to prosecute should arguably not have been made by a police investigator but by a prosecutor ie. by the Justice Department.

That Comey knew at the time that he was wrong to close down the investigation and to meddle in work which properly speaking belonged to the Justice Department is shown by his decision to hold a news conference directly after he made his decision in order to explain it.  Needless to say the explanation satisfied no one, with Republicans angry that the investigation was shut down prematurely and Democrats angry at the criticisms Comey felt obliged to make of Hillary Clinton during the news conference.

Apparently the whole episode shook confidence in Comey within the FBI, and it would not be surprising if many agents there are happy to see him go.

However inevitably the Democrats are claiming that the real reason Comey has been sacked is because of Russiagate, and as I write this the liberal media is full of comparisons with the so-called ‘Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973 when the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General both resigned rather than carry out President Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox (Cox was finally fired by Solicitor General Robert Bork).

The comparison is completely misplaced.  In this case far from the Justice Department resisting the President’s order to fire Comey, it is upon the recommendation of the Justice Department that Comey has been fired.

Having said this, there is no doubt relations between the President and Comey have deteriorated to breaking point, and it is not difficult to see why.

The simple fact is that either through incompetence or fear Comey has botched the Russiagate investigation.  Not only did he not insist on the FBI examining John Podesta’s and the DNC’s computers – choosing instead to rely on the conclusions of CrowdStrike, which is a private company – but in 9 months of investigations the Russiagate has failed to produce any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians whatsoever.  Notwithstanding this the investigation is continuing with no end in sight.

By contrast whilst the Russiagate investigation is going nowhere, with no reason to think it will ever go anywhere because no evidence of wrongdoing or impropriety by any US citizen has ever been discovered, Comey has quite obviously been resisting the President’s demands to investigate the leaks of classified information to the media by former Obama officials and by officials of the US intelligence and security services, even though this most definitely is a crime.

To compound the problem, there is the greater fact that despite earlier denials it is now confirmed that US citizens like Carter Page against whom there has never been any evidence of wrongdoing were placed under surveillance during the election period by the FBI under cover of the Russiagate investigation.  As I have repeatedly said, and as others are now saying, this is the true scandal of the 2016 election.  The treatment of Carter Page in particular has now tipped over into outright persecution.

All this would be bad enough, but it has become increasingly clear as a result of Comey’s testimony to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees that he suffers from an alarming ignorance of Russia, which is the country whose alleged espionage activities he is supposed to be investigating.  Thus during his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee it turned out for example that he was ignorant of basic facts about Gazprom, Russia’s biggest company and the export arm of its gas industry.

The result is that instead of the Russiagate investigation being based on actual knowledge of Russia, it depends to a dangerous degree on the usual set of paranoid assumptions widespread about it in the West which it turns out Comey himself shares, and which has led Comey to give credence to the fantastic assertions contained in the Trump Dossier whose compiler Christopher Steele has admitted relies on information, which is both unverified and which has already on occasion been shown to be wrong.

Significantly during his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Comey admitted that it was he who insisted on the unverified (and unverifiable) Trump Dossier being attached to the classified version of the ODNI report into the Russian hacking allegations, which was given in January to President Obama and to President elect Trump, even though Comey must have known that doing so would sharply increase the possibility that the Trump Dossier would be made public by the media.

It is not surprising therefore that President Trump, the senior officials of the Justice Department, and the rest of the Trump administration, have lost confidence in Comey.  Frankly, with Comey in charge, I had begun to wonder whether the Russiagate investigation would ever be brought to an end, with Comey in order to cover up his previous errors having a personal stake in keeping it going indefinitely.

If the decision to fire Comey was justifiable and necessary, it will nonetheless provoke a political storm, with the Democrats claiming that it is intended to abort an investigation that was “getting too close”.  The question is whether the President and the administration can resist the storm.

My best guess is that they can.  It bears repeating again that 9 months after the Russiagate investigation was launched no evidence has come to light even of a crime being committed, much less of anyone having perpetrated a crime, or of any crime being covered up.

I say this because the various “crimes” of which President Trump’s former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn is accused – under the Logan Act and for failing to disclose financial payments from various agencies in Turkey and Russia – have no direct connection to the central allegation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia which forms the heart of the Russiagate scandal, for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

In light of this I cannot see how any claim that the investigation was “getting too close” is remotely sustainable, and I doubt the Democrats will in the end be able to sustain it.

Hopefully with Comey gone it will now be possible for his successor to take a fresh look at this mess, to sort out fiction from fact, and to bring the investigation back on track.  If so then I have no doubt the investigation will be brought to an end quickly, hopefully after all the supposedly ‘secret evidence’ about which we have heard so much is finally exposed to the light of day.

 

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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