Patterico's Pontifications

4/18/2018

James Comey: I No Longer Consider Myself a Republican

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

Welcome to the club, buddy. What took you so long?

James Comey declared on Wednesday that he is no longer a Republican, stating in an interview with “the Republican party has left me.”

In an interview on ABC News podcast Start Here, the former FBI director, who used to consider himself a Republican, was asked whether he still saw himself as a member of the Grand Old Party.

“No,” Comey replied. “The Republican party has left me, and many others.”

. . . .

“I see the Republican Party, as near as I can tell, reflects now entirely Donald Trump’s values,” Comey continued. “It doesn’t reflect values at all. It’s transactional, it’s ego-driven, it’s in service to his ego. And it’s, I think, consoling itself that we’re going to achieve important policy goals — a tax cut or something.”

He’s not wrong. Donald Trump has laughably changed positions on everything under the sun, including matters that are serious (like the propriety of bombing Syria without Congressional authorization) and others that are more trivial (like whether the President of the United States should spend a lot of time playing golf).

And Republicans are just fine with hypocrisy this rank.

It’s true that Donald Trump does have one deniable positive characteristic that will never change — albeit a characteristic that he shares with every person on the planet save one. He is not Hillary Clinton. And for many people, that’s good enough to be OK with him being in office, and I understand that.

That’s a little different from saying that we have to back him up every time he lies or says something crazy. You don’t have to go on nationwide TV and embarrass yourelf by pretending you never heard the man lie, as Jim Jordan did with Anderson Cooper.

You don’t have to pretend that it’s a media conspiracy to label Trump as a kook and unfit for office if you were saying the same thing yourself a year ago:

This stuff is just embarrassing. But it’s the Republican party now.

I have purchased Comey’s book A Higher Loyalty with the audiobook add-on read by Comey. It’s interesting to see how his actual words in context contrast with the way he is portrayed. Comey is commonly portrayed as sanctimonious, apparently because he believes in principles in the era of Trump, where principles are not cool. But he doesn’t sound particularly sanctimonious to me in his book, at least so far. In his introduction, Comey says:

All people have flaws and I have many. Some of mine, as you’ll discover in this book, are that I can be stubborn, prideful, overconfident and driven by ego. I’ve struggled with those my whole life. . . .I know I can be wrong, even when I am certain I am right.

When is the last time you heard self-reflection and self-criticism like that from Donald Trump?

Comey is also pilloried for having made comments about Trump’s personal appearance. He defends himself by saying he includes details to bring the reader into the picture and make the reader feel like he or she is there. Again, this makes sense. Look at his description of FBI veteran Greg Brower: “Greg was a fifty-three-year-old Nevadan with salt-and-pepper hair.” OMIGOD WHY DID HE HAVE TO SAY THE GUY HAD SALT IN HIS HAIR? IS HE CALLING THE GUY OLD?!?!?! No, he’s just describing someone. Calm down.

As I have said many times, I think Comey mishandled the Hillary investigation. I’ll be very curious to see how he justifies some of his decisions. But he just doesn’t seem like a bad guy to me. If anyone is prideful and has a big ego, it’s Donald Trump. And the Republican party seems fine with him.

If you’re fine with Trump’s ego, I don’t really want to hear your whining about Comey’s. All you’re doing is confirming Comey’s description of Republicans as lemmings following Trump off the cliff. Comey and I have gotten out of the marching line. Join us. We have pie.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

4/17/2018

Barbara Bush Passes Away [Addendum by JVW]

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:11 pm

[guest post by Dana]

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Sad news:

“A former first lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at the age of 92,” reads a statement from the office of former President George H.W. Bush.

Mrs. Bush served as the country’s first lady from 1989 to 1993. She passed away shortly after deciding to forgo further medical treatments for her failing health.

Her funeral will be held at St. Martin’s Church in Houston, when she and the former president have been devoted members for decades.

She had been battling various illness, including congestive heart failure and pulmonary disease, and just this past Sunday her office released a statement saying that Mrs. Bush would no longer be seeking medical treatment but rather comfort care instead.

Mrs. Bush was sharp woman who knew, really knew what mattered most in this life:

“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal,” she said. “You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.”

One of the most powerful glimpses into the strength and grace of Barbara Bush came when she wrote about the passing of her daughter Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush who died of leukemia in 1953 at 3 years old:

“Eventually the medicine that was controlling the leukemia caused other terrible problems. We called George, and by the time he got there after flying all night, our baby was in a coma. Her death was very peaceful. One minute she was there, and the next she was gone. I truly felt her soul go out of that beautiful little body. For one last time I combed her hair, and we held our precious little girl. I never felt the presence of God more strongly than at that moment.”

Now Barbara Bush is not only in the presence of God, but she is also reunited with her beloved Robin. May God give the surviving Bush family members, especially George H.W. Bush, her husband of 72 years, the peace and comfort that passes all understanding.

I’l leave you with a sample of Mrs. Bush’s wit from last month’s Smith College alumnae magazine:

“I have had great medical care and more operations than you would believe. I’m not sure God will recognize me; I have so many new body parts!”

You can read some of the many tributes to Mrs. Bush here.

(PS: If you have nothing nice to say, just don’t say anything.)

–Dana

[ADDENDUM by JVW]

I think that for the very first time ever, all three of us (Patterico, Dana, and I) independently composed posts on Mrs. Bush’s passing. I won’t put mine up, but I wanted to add this little bit from it, since it is my favorite memory of her:

When I was finishing my sophomore year, Mrs. Bush was invited to give the commencement address at Wellesley College. Many members of the faculty and the graduating class complained, reasoning that Mrs. Bush was a poor role model for young feminists because she left Smith without a degree in order to marry the future forty-first President. Even in the days before social media, the complaints still managed to attract national attention, and in a foreshadowing of what has since come to be commonplace, there soon emerged a pretty strong divide between those siding with the protesters and those who found the complaint to be at best specious and at worst patronizing in an entirely unearned manner. The Wellesley administration manfully soldiered on and refused to disinvite Mrs. Bush from speaking. After meeting with some of the protesting students to partially defuse the situation (disclosure: I knew one of the young ladies who was a protest leader), Mrs. Bush gave a speech that offered a full-defense of life as a wife and mother — a speech that it is almost impossible to imagine anyone having the guts to make on any college campus outside of Liberty or Ave Maria or Hillsdale or maybe BYU in this day and age:

For several years you’ve had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work, and of course that’s true. But as important as your obligations as a doctor, a lawyer, a business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections with spouses, with children, with friends are the most important investment you will ever make.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.

Having been told by the protesters that she wasn’t worthy of addressing them at this important event, Mrs. Bush gently yet deftly won most of them over with her wit and charm. After first acknowledging that she wasn’t their first choice — “Now I know your first choice today was Alice Walker — guess how I know? Known for The Color Purple. Instead, you got me, known for the color of my hair!” — she closed her speech with a perfectly-delivered one-liner which dominated the next news cycle and reminded everyone that Barbara Bush was a formidable adversary:

– JVW

RIP Barbara Bush

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:57 pm

Barbara Bush has died. Her son George W. had this to say:

My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.

RIP.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

CNN’s Brian Stelter Has a Lot of Nerve Getting Snotty About Sean Hannity’s Conflict of Interest

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 am

Brian Stelter of CNN is getting huffy about yesterday’s revelation that Sean Hannity may have used President Trump’s personal lawyer for legal advice without telling viewers. And Brian Stelter of CNN wants you to know that he is deeply disturbed by this unethical lack of disclosure:

While his off-air relationships might be just a logical extension of Hannity’s on-air cheerleading for Trump, it still came as a surprise, immediately raising questions about both Hannity and Fox.

By any standards of any normal newsroom, the Cohen-Hannity relationship is a glaring conflict of interest.

Fox is not a normal newsroom. And Hannity’s viewers are not typical news viewers — people who watch almost any other show would likely feel lied to when they learned something like this had not been disclosed to them, but Hannity’s want him to have this kind of relationship with Trumpworld.

This comes from Brian Stelter.

Of CNN.

You see the problem? If not, let me sum it up in two words:

Corey Lewandowski.

In June 2016, after Lewandowski left the Trump campaign, he was hired by CNN to be a political commentator. Here’s what one Brian Stelter from CNN said at the time:

There are also swirling questions about whether Lewandowski is still bound to Trump somehow.

Like other Trump employees, he signed a non-disclosure agreement that ensures he will not share confidential information.

The agreement likely included a “non-disparagement clause,” impeding his ability to criticize Trump publicly.

On Thursday night, in his first appearance as a CNN commentator, anchor Erin Burnett asked about the existence of such a clause, and Lewandowski declined to answer directly.

Meaning, of course, that he had one. Does this mean that Brian Stelter opposed the hire? Judge for yourself by reading the last line of his piece:

Adding Lewandowski is another way to ensure ideological diversity on the air. His perspective might be uniquely valuable given that he was Trump’s right hand man up until this week.

LOL. Cue the eternal cry of the hypocritical leftist: But that’s different!

But it got worse. In September, ABC News reported that Lewandowski was still receiving payments from the Trump campaign, even as he gave commentary about Trump on CNN:

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign paid former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s company $20,000 in consulting fees in August, campaign filings show.

Lewandowski was fired as Trump’s campaign manager on June 20 . . . Days after the firing, CNN hired Lewandowski as an on-air political commentator, a position he holds currently.

Trump’s campaign finance filing shows a $20,000 payment made to Lewandowski’s company, Green Monster Consulting, LLC, on August 11 for the purpose of “strategy consulting.”

Did CNN immediately fire Lewandowski? No, CNN did not. Indeed, Lewandowski stayed on until days before the election, ultimately resigning in November. As one Brian Stelter from CNN reported:

Lewandowski brought unique first-hand experience running a historic presidential campaign. But some viewers — and even some CNN staffers — felt Lewandowski never should have been hired at all.

Lewandowski was bound by a non-disclosure agreement that impeded his ability to criticize Trump publicly. He also received severance payments from the campaign.

CNN President Jeff Zucker stood by the decision to hire Lewandowski, pointing out that it was critical to have ideological diversity on the airwaves.

Which sounds a lot like Stelter’s own quote (already noted above), when Lewandowski was hired: “Adding Lewandowski is another way to ensure ideological diversity on the air.”

You know what you did not see from Stelter? A passage like this one, in which I take Stelter’s commentary about Hannity and rewrite it for the Lewandowski situation:

While his off-air relationship with Cohen might be just a logical extension of Lewandowski’s on-air cheerleading for Trump, it still came as a surprise, immediately raising questions about both Lewandowski and CNN.

By any standards of any normal newsroom, the Trump campaign’s payments to (and non-disparagement clause with) Lewandowski relationship constitute a glaring conflict of interest.

CNN is not a normal newsroom. And Lewandowski’s fans are not typical news viewers — people who watch almost any other show would likely feel lied to when they learned something like this had not been disclosed to them, but Lewandowski’s fans want him to have this kind of relationship with Trumpworld.

You did not see anything like that in any of Brian Stelter’s pieces. You did not see him calling Lewandowski’s arrangement a “glaring conflict of interest.” You did not see him claiming that CNN is not a normal newsroom. Instead, you saw him praising the Lewandowski hire.

What do you know? He has a different standard for Fox News than he has for his own employer!

Which is to be expected. Just don’t expect us to take your moral preening seriously, Brian Stelter. You guys are hardly the angels you’re trying to appear to be. And we all know it.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

4/16/2018

Sean Hannity Named As Cohen Client. Hannity Says, Uh, Not So Fast…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:51 pm

[guest post by Dana]

So Sean Hannity has been named as Michael D. Cohen’s client:

President Trump’s personal attorney Michael D. Cohen did work for Fox News commentator Sean Hannity in the past year, one of just three legal clients Cohen represented after leaving his post as a counsel for Trump’s private company in early 2017, his attorney told a federal judge Monday.

Cohen’s work for Hannity was revealed during a court hearing in Manhattan on Monday and confirmed by a source familiar with the relationship. Cohen also did legal work for the president and GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy in the past year, his attorney told the court.

Hannity denies he was an actual paying client:

Hannity said Monday that he occasionally turned to Cohen when he had legal questions but that he never paid him to be his attorney.

“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter,” the conservative commentator wrote on Twitter. “I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.”

“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party,” Hannity added.

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How it came to this:

A letter from Cohen’s lawyer Todd Harrison filed Monday said that agents seized “more than a dozen electronic devices and other items that include documents and data regarding topics and issues that have nothing to do with” the material sought in the search warrant.

The letter says that from 1996 to 2006, Cohen had hundreds of clients, adding that he did not know if any material from those clients was in the seized files. From 2007 to 2017, Cohen worked as a lawyer for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The letter said that in 2017 and 2018, Cohen had “at least ten clients,” but seven of those were business consulting clients whose work did not involve legal advice.

The three other clients, according to the letter, were Trump, Broidy and a third client whom Cohen initially did not want to be identified.

[RNC deputy finance chair steps down after admitting Trump’s lawyer negotiated settlement between him and pregnant Playboy model]

“As to the one unnamed legal client, we do not believe that Mr. Cohen should be asked to reveal the name or can permissibly do so,” the letter said. “Upon information and belief, the unnamed legal client’s matters are responsive to any matter covered by . . . the search warrants.”

Cohen’s lawyers argue that if the court appoints a special master to oversee the issue, “that legal client would allow their name to be disclosed to the special master.”

Both Trump and Cohen claimed “that the Justice Department policy is unfair and infringes on constitutional protections.”

As usual, Popehat has some interesting thoughts and cautions about the latest turn of events:

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Outside the courtroom, Stormy Daniels spanked Michael D. Cohen in a statement made to the press:

“For years, Mr. Cohen has acted like he is above the law, he has considered himself and openly referred to himself as Mr. Trump’s fixer. He has played by a different set of rules or should we say no rules at all,” the adult-film actress said with her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, beside her. “He has never thought that the little man, or especially women or even more, women like me, matter. That ends now. My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everyone finds out the truth and facts of what happened and I give my word that we will not rest until that happens.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Lanny Davis’s Bogus Attack on James Comey

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I’ll put my cards on the table: I don’t hate James Comey the way the rest of the world — right and left — appears to. I thought he came across in George Snuffleupagus’s* interview as reasonable, self-reflective, and honest.

In the last 24-48 hours, Comey has been attacked by people on both sides of the aisle. I have even seen conservatives holding up Loretta Lynch (!) as an example of integrity, and seemingly taking sides with her over Comey regarding the nature of their personal conversations and their respective handling of the Hillary Clinton matter. Why anyone would side with Lynch over Comey is a mystery to me, other than that Comey is the designated Trump punching bag of the moment.

There’s one attack that I read that intrigued me — and having investigated it, I have found it to be bogus. I figured I’d share those findings with you.

The attack comes from Lanny Davis, in a piece titled Admit it, James Comey: You’ve been lying all along. Davis complains (as most Clintonites do) that Comey messed up by sending Congress a letter just 11 days before the 2016 election, informing Congress that the Hillary Clinton email investigation had been reopened because of emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Davis says that Comey’s stated reason for sending this letter is false:

Comey has repeatedly claimed that he was “obligated” to write his speculative letter because of a promise he had made to Congress to do so if “anything new” came up after his July 5, 2016, press conference announcing a new prosecutable case could be brought against Clinton.

However, I established beyond any doubt in my book published in February 2018, “The Unmaking of the Presidency 2016,” that Comey’s claim was — and remains — false.

In fact, Comey only promised Congress in September 2016 that if anything new came up on the emails issue that might cause the FBI to reconsider its non-prosecution decision, he would “take a look” — not that he would make a public disclosure to Congress before doing so.

Davis actually goes so far as to claim that it is a “lie” for Comey to claim that he had promised to inform Congress:

When I wrote my book, I avoided using the word “lie” about Comey falsely using the word “obligation” to Congress, given my extreme reluctance to ever use the “lie” word unless I am certain there is a knowing, willful, intentional misstatement of the truth.

Well, James Comey has had plenty of time to go back to check his testimony before Congress to see what he actually said as he begins his book tour and, among other things, tries to justify his October 28 letter.

Yet, in the already released excerpts of the TV interview with George Stephanopoulos Sunday night, Comey intends to repeat the same knowing falsehood that he was “obligated” to send his letter to Congress because he promised to do so.

There is some sleight of hand here. Davis makes it sound like the issue is whether Comey really promised to inform Congress, or whether the promise was merely to “look at” any new evidence that might come up. And if you look at the September 2016 testimony that Davis cites, the answer to that question is, as Davis claims, that Comey merely promised to “look at” the information:

Mr. SMITH: My first question is this: Would you reopen the Clinton investigation if you discovered new information that was both relevant and substantial?

Mr. COMEY: It is hard for me to answer in the abstract. We would certainly look at any new and substantial information.

So Comey is lying, right?

No. Here’s where the sleight of hand comes in. Because Davis is not telling the truth about what Comey’s stated justification was. I can find no evidence that Davis’s claim — that Comey justified having sent the letter to Congress because of a “promise” he had made to Congress to inform them — is true.

Instead, the justification Comey offered was that he had a choice: between revealing the reopening of the investigation, and concealing it. And he worried that concealing it would damage the FBI as an institution. This is what he has consistently said, in multiple places.

Let’s start with the interview with Snuffleupagus, parts of which were broadcast last night. I’m going to include a very, very long passage, so that nobody can accuse me of leaving anything out. Here is the passage from the transcript of the full unedited interview with Stephanopoulos in which Comey addresses the same issue. Comey explains the decision as a dilemma between speaking (telling Congress about the reopening of the investigation) and concealing (saying nothing). See if you can find the part where Comey says he sent the letter because he had “promised” to update Congress. Hint: it’s not there:

And then the question for me now is, “So what do we do now?” Remember the– the standard is, the norm is, “If you can avoid it, you take no action that might have an impact on an election.” And I’m sitting there, on the morning of October 27th, and I can’t see a door that’s labeled, “No action here.” I can only see two doors, and they’re both actions. One says, “Speak,” the other says, “Conceal”–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no. You– you c– you could you f– try to find out first whether or not they were indeed relevant. Whether they– there was evidence there of a crime.

JAMES COMEY: Well, maybe. And maybe another director might have done that. My view is that would be a potentially deeply irresponsible and dangerous thing to do, to gamble– remember, the team is telling you, “We cannot evaluate this material before the election.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But we don’t know what’s in it?

JAMES COMEY: Well, we know there are hundreds of thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails there, including Blackberry emails. And so there is reason to believe that this is evidence in our case, and may change the result. And so maybe what you do is gamble and say, “I’ll be quiet about it,” but that comes back to my doors.

That’s an affirmative act of concealment, right? Because I’ve told Congress and the American people– the whole point of July 5th was transparency. “Look, American people, what we’ve done. We did it carefully, we did it well. There’s no there there.

You can take that to the bank. You can rely on the FBI. We’re done. Everybody can get on with their lives.” It’s October 27th, that’s not true anymore, in potentially a huge way. So you could speak about it, or you could not speak about it. But the not speaking about it is an action.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Senior Justice officials weren’t convinced that you actually had an obligation to tell Congress that at that time. What was their argument, what was your response?

JAMES COMEY: Their argument was that it was not consistent with our policy, and that we don’t normally comment on investigations, all of which I agree with. And that they would advise against it. Actually never spoke to me about it personally. I had my chief of staff call over to the leadership’s chief of s– staffs of th– the attorney general and the deputy and say, “The director thinks that is between speaking and concealing.

Speaking is really bad; concealing is catastrophic. If you conceal the fact that you have restarted the Hillary Clinton email investigation, not in some silly way but in a very, very important way that may lead to a different conclusion, what will happen to the institutions of justice when that comes out?

Especially, given the world we’re operating in, when Hillary Clinton’s elected president? She’ll be an illegitimate president, but these organizations will never recover from that. You hid from the American people something you knew gave the lie to what you told them in Congress repeatedly. And so the director thinks that we have to speak. And he would be happy to talk to you about it. Let him know.”

There is a lot more, as Comey and Snuffleupagus discuss the issue for a long, long, long time. If you want to keep reading, I have put the rest of this part of the interview on a page here. There is nothing in it about a “promise” to update Congress, as Davis claims. That was not the issue. The issue, in Comey’s mind, was to speak or to conceal.

This is consistent with other times when Comey has discussed the issue. Take his testimony from May 2017:

I faced a choice. And I’ve lived my entire career by the tradition that if you can possibly avoid it, you avoid any action in the run-up to an election that might have an impact. Whether it’s a dogcatcher election or president of the United States, but I sat there that morning and I could not see a door labeled no action here.

I could see two doors and they were both actions. One was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal. Because here’s how I thought about it, I’m not trying to talk you into this, but I want you to know my thinking. Having repeatedly told this Congress, we are done and there’s nothing there, there’s no case there, there’s no case there, to restart in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it would require an active concealment, in my view.

And so I stared at speak and conceal. Speak would be really bad. There’s an election in 11 days, Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we got to walk into the world of really bad. I’ve got to tell Congress that we’re restarting this, not in some frivolous way, in a hugely significant way.

And the team also told me, we cannot finish this work before the election. And then they worked night after night after night, and they found thousands of new emails, they found classified information on Anthony Weiner. Somehow, her emails are being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information, by her assistant, Huma Abedin. And so they found thousands of new emails and then called me the Saturday night before the election and said thanks to the wizardry of our technology, we’ve only had to personally read 6,000. We think we can finish tomorrow morning, Sunday.

And so I met with them and they said we found a lot of new stuff. We did not find anything that changes our view of her intent. So we’re in the same place we were in July. It hasn’t changed our view and I asked them lots of questions and I said okay, if that’s where you are, then I also have to tell Congress that we’re done. Look, this is terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly, it wouldn’t change the decision.

Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28 with me and stare at this and tell me what you would do. Would you speak or would you conceal? And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight — and this has been one of the world’s most painful experiences — I would make the same decision.

I would not conceal that, on October 28, from the Congress.

Finally, Comey wrote a letter to his troops, explaining the decision. Here is the relevant paragraph, explaining why he wrote the letter to Congress:

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

Again, there is nothing there about a promise to Congress. Comey is just saying that, having testified about it to Congress, he believed it would be misleading if the investigation were reopened and he said nothing.

I won’t call Lanny Davis a liar. But from all available evidence, the claim he makes about Comey’s proffered justification is false.

You’ll have to find other reasons to criticize Comey. This dog won’t hunt.

_______________________________________________

*That’s what I’ve always called him.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

4/15/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 134

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the third Sunday of Easter. The title of today’s cantata is “Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß” (A heart that knows its Jesus is living).

Today’s Gospel reading is another record of the appearance of Jesus among the living. Luke 24:36b-48:

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

The text of today’s cantata is available here. Number 4, a duet aria, contains these words:

the Savior appears and comforts us again
and through Himself strengthens the struggling Church

Number 5, a recitative, has these words:

May your Hand enclose us,
so that we behold your powerful potency,
which your death and victory has earned us,
and that now, through your Resurrection,
a person does not die, even when he dies in the world,
and that through this we enter into Your glory.
Whatever is in us exalts You, great God,
and praises Your mercy and love;
your Resurrection makes them new again,
your great victory makes us free from the enemy
and brings us to life;
Therefore let thanks and praise be given to You.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

4/14/2018

Like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, I Dissent on Syrian Air Strikes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

Ted Cruz, September 9, 2013 on proposed air strikes by President Obama: Why I’ll vote no on Syria strike.

First, Assad’s actions, however deplorable, are not a direct threat to U.S. national security. Many bad actors on the world stage have, tragically, oppressed and killed their citizens, even using chemical weapons to do so. Unilaterally avenging humanitarian disaster, however, is well outside the traditional scope of U.S. military action.

Second, just because Assad is a murderous thug does not mean that the rebels opposing him are necessarily better. As of May, seven of the nine major rebel groups appeared to have significant ties to Islamists, some of whom may have links to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Their presence and power have only increased, according to media reports. We should never give weapons to people who hate us, and the United States should not support or arm al-Qaeda terrorists.

Third, the potential for escalation is immense. Syria is in the midst of a sectarian civil war, born of centuries-old animosities. We have no clear ally in this ­Sunni-Shiite conflict, and any “limited” and “proportional” strike could quickly get out of control, imperiling our allies and forcing us into the civil war.

The president and his secretary of state have repeatedly said that Assad’s use of chemical weapons violates an “international norm.” They insist it is critical that we send a “message” to Assad that his behavior is unacceptable. But it is not the job of U.S. troops to police international norms or to send messages. Our men and women in uniform have signed up to defend America.

That was Ted Cruz from 2013. I agreed with his reasoning then and I still agree with it now.

Donald Trump, September 7, 2013:

And August 30, 2013:

Trump was right then, and his reasoning is still true.

The first time Trump did this, Andrew C. McCarthy said:

I was with McCarthy then and I am with them now:

Because nothing is different now.

The Constitution says Congress must declare war. The President may conduct the war that Congress has declared, and can also act in response to sudden attacks.

Syria has not attacked us. Congress has not declared war. Strikes like these are an act of war. If someone did it to us, we would see it that way.

There is no constitutional basis for these attacks. Trump should not be doing this.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

4/13/2018

President Trump Pardons Scooter Libby

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:34 am

[guest post by Dana]

Here is the statement from the White House:

Today, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) to I. “Scooter” Lewis Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Richard Cheney, for convictions stemming from a 2007 trial. President George W. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence shortly after his conviction. Mr. Libby, nevertheless, paid a $250,000 fine, performed 400 hours of community service, and served two years of probation.

In 2015, one of the key witnesses against Mr. Libby recanted her testimony, stating publicly that she believes the prosecutor withheld relevant information from her during interviews that would have altered significantly what she said. The next year, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated Mr. Libby to the bar, reauthorizing him to practice law. The Court agreed with the District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel, who stated that Mr. Libby had presented “credible evidence” in support of his innocence, including evidence that a key prosecution witness had “changed her recollection of the events in question.”

Before his conviction, Mr. Libby had rendered more than a decade of honorable service to the Nation as a public servant at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the White House. His record since his conviction is similarly unblemished, and he continues to be held in high regard by his colleagues and peers.

In light of these facts, the President believes Mr. Libby is fully worthy of this pardon. “I don’t know Mr. Libby,” said President Trump, “but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Friday Round-Up Concerning President Trump

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:27 am

[guest post by Dana]

Limited time here, so a quick round-up of items in the news today concerning President Trump:

1) Predictably, President Trump lashed out at former FBI Director James Comey, in advance of his memoir’s release. Excerpts from Comey’s book are already online:

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2) President Trump is considering (at this time) a pardon for Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. It would follow his pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And it should be noted that, at this point in time there are reportedly no plans by the White House to pardon anyone snared in the Russia investigation.

Ed Morrissey considers the “why now” question:

…Trump no doubt sees a Libby pardon as a cost-free warning shot across Robert Mueller’s bow, a reminder that the president can start issuing pardons to anyone caught in a perjury trap, especially on tangential issues. It’s certainly going to give Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos some food for thought. Rick Gates would face a raft of state charges even if pardoned by Trump on the federal charges relating to his business dealings with Paul Manafort, so it probably won’t upset the incentives in place there. However, that case so far has nothing to do with Trump anyway.

Why now, though? The Washington Post suggests that it might have something to do with the influx of some new faces in the White House:

“Other Bush loyalists also expressed their frustration — including a number who are now in Trump’s orbit.

“Somebody’s going to have to ask President Bush why he went out of his way to say he respected the jury’s verdict,” John R. Bolton, Bush’s UN ambassador and Trump’s new national security adviser, said at the time. “If you think it was a miscarriage of justice, then you think it shouldn’t have gone to a jury to begin with.”

Alan Dershowitz, a vocal Trump defender on cable television, also pushed Libby’s appellate cause, calling his appeals “serious and substantial” and filing a brief in 2007 asking for Libby to be granted bail pending his appeal.

Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, the husband and wife attorney team Trump considered hiring earlier this year, are also vocal Libby backers.

When Libby got his law license back in 2016, DiGenova told the Daily Caller: “Comey and Fitzgerald tried to frame Scooter Libby, and they did, but then they didn’t get it done. And then of course that idiot George W. Bush didn’t give him a pardon he only commuted his sentence.”

It’s all… so interesting:

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3) Republican Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) opines in the Washington Post that everyone benefits from protecting Mueller – even Trump:

I believe in the rule of law, regardless of who occupies the White House or which party leads the Justice Department. That is why in August I introduced a bill to create a judicial-review process to prevent the removal of a special counsel without good cause.

Over the past several months, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and I have been working with Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who introduced a similar bill, to reconcile the differences between the two proposals. This week, we introduced the compromise, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act .

Letting his investigation run its course is in the best interest of the country, and it is the only option to ensure that the American people have trust in the process. This is critically important because it means when the investigation concludes, our country can move forward together. Our bill will help ensure that happens.

Tillis explains how special-counsel legislation would actually protect the President:

First, if the president actually removes the special counsel without good cause, it would likely result in swift, bipartisan backlash and shake the country’s faith in the integrity of our legal system. Talking heads and pundits on television encouraging the president to make such a drastic and counterproductive move most certainly do not have his best interests at heart. The result would not be good for the American people, the Republican Party or the president.

Second, the constant headlines and rumors that Trump is considering or has considered removing Mueller — “fake news” or not — are a distraction from the president’s agenda and successful policy initiatives. While the president is understandably frustrated with the investigation, I don’t believe he would ultimately remove Mueller, and the White House and the president’s legal team have indicated that he does not intend to do so. This bill becoming law would remove that narrative from the conversation.

4) Finally, there is a newly launched non-profit group, Republicans for the Rule of Law, headed by Bill Kristol and involving other noted Republicans who want to make sure the investigation continues, and that Mueller not be fired:

Republicans for the Rule of Law is a coalition of Republicans who believe the Special Counsel’s investigation should be completed without political interference. We represent the majority of Republicans who believe Robert Mueller should not be fired.

Kristol himself said:

Republicans should not hesitate to defend the rule of law, nor should they equivocate in doing so. We hope to encourage more of them to get out of a defensive crouch, step up to the plate and swing the bat on behalf of the principles of our constitutional democracy.

Amusingly, the group bought a 30 second spot on Fox and Friends (reputed to be Trump’s favorite show) and ran an ad in the Washington D.C. area supporting the special counsel.

Have a great weekend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

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