Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2018

Trey Gowdy: Spygate, Schmygate; Also Trump Asked Sessions to Unrecuse [UPDATE: D’Souza Pardon]

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am

People who retire are finally allowed to say what they actually think. So liberating! Outgoing Rep. Trey Gowdy says the FBI not only did nothing wrong in using an informant, but that they did what the public would want them to do:

Outgoing Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the House Oversight Committee chairman and a Trump supporter, said in an interview on Fox that the FBI was justified in using a secret informant to assist in the Russia investigation. Gowdy, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, attended a classified Justice Department briefing last week on the FBI’s use of the confidential source, identified as Stefan A. Halper.

President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it, and it sounds to me like that is exactly what the FBI did,” Gowdy told host Martha MacCallum. “I think when the president finds out what happened, he is going to be not just fine, he is going to be glad that we have an FBI that took seriously what they heard.

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said. Asked about the president’s tweets on the subject, Gowdy added that such statements could be subject to questioning by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

“If I were his lawyer, and I never will be, I would tell him to rely on his lawyers and his [communications] folks,” he said.

Let’s repeat the language I have bolded: “President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it.” The thing is, Trump doesn’t act like it. The New York Times recently revealed that Trump attempted in March 2017 to get Sessions to undo his recusal:

By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign.

It’s a story based on anonymous sources, but it’s consistent with Trump’s public behavior in berating Sessions on Twitter and saying that he never would have picked Sessions if he had known that he would recuse himself. Implicit in Trump’s stance appears to be the curious notion that if Sessions had not recused himself, he would have shut the Russia investigation down. That strikes me as an unwarranted assumption. In any event, Sessions did the right thing, and took a lot of heat from Trump over it. Good for him.

If Trump did what the New York Times claims, it’s another brick in the impeachment wall that Democrats are trying to build in the hopes that they retake the House. Trump’s act of firing Comey to shut down the investigation would be a muddy basis for impeachment standing alone, given that Trump mixed his true motivations with other justifications (even though he unwittingly revealed that those justifications were ultimately irrelevant). The motive behind this act is much clearer. Add it to all the others, and you are approaching something Democrats might act on. Especially when, for many, Trump being Trump is all the justification they think they need.

Removal of Trump is a pipe dream for Democrats — but if shoes like this keep dropping, and if Trump keeps behaving impulsively and foolishly (and it’s a given that he will), impeachment is not.

UPDATE: And right on cue, another foolish act: Trump announces he will give a full pardon to Dinesh D’Souza.

President Trump announced Thursday he will pardon conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution in 2014.

“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

The pattern here is unmistakable. Thinking of rolling on Trump but you’re looking at a conviction for lying to the feds? Here’s a pardon for Scooter Libby! Wink wink! Thinking of rolling on Trump and you’re looking at a prosecution for campaign finance violations? Here’s a pardon for Dinesh D’Souza!

This is not subtle. And it feeds the perception, among those of us paying attention, that he is very worried for some reason.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


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