It was a busy weekend and I didn’t have time to prepare a good post, so I’ll save my insights for discussion in the comments.

There were two things I wasn’t expecting and it remains to be seen how these new facts will change the story:

  1. Who knew Comey would admit to being the leaker of the memos?  What a twist!
  2. It was amazing to see Comey throw Loretta Lynch under the bus.  Senator Feinstein is even calling for an investigation into it.

It seems that everything has been turned on its head.

What are your impressions?  Anyone brave enough to throw out any predictions?

 

19 comments

  1. I wouldn’t be hauling out the trump 2020 posters just yet. This is the boiling frog parable and king orange is gonna fall for it hook, line and sinker. I doubt mueller would be building a roster of flawless prosecutorial attorneys based on what comey phoned in publicly last week. Even comey had this unmistakable shit eating grin on his face during that hearing which lets me know trump and the trumpalos are swimming in a heated pool.

    That’s just one front. He’s also probably gonna be court ordered to cough up his taxes which will be wildly entertaining.

  2. The longer this goes on and the more the anti-Trump folks push it despite the high likelihood that no crime was committed, the more convinced I am becoming that Trump’s reelection is assured.

  3. There are two universal truths I’m relying on in this time of uncertainty:

    1.) the near 100 percent likelihood that a person of wealth and power won’t accept “no” and “that is against the rules” as an acceptable answer to a course of action.

    2.) the old law enforcement parable that if you were driving like you’re guilty of something you probably are.

    Hes guilty, he just thinks it’s a game he played and won like his taxes. Not even Howard Hughes got away scot free when he gambled with government money.

  4. I was waiting for a post on this, because I’m really interested to hear what the Right-Leaning folks think….

    On your first point – leaking is fine. It’s how people influence the narrative (on both sides). See also Bannon, Steve.
    If your organisation (or administration) is leaking things you don’t want them to, it’s a reflection on your leadership and management, and the fact that you can’t unify your team and get them on message. The only people who should be ‘going after the leakers’ is the Communications Director. The fact that he quit might offer an insight as to why there are so many leaks. My hunch is that Trump isn’t used to not being able to NDA his employees.

    Leaking classified information is another thing entirely, and should be investigated/prosecuted. But that’s not what Trump is talking about.

    Secondly – I’m interested to hear what you (Thrill) think actually happened? Do you think that Comey is making it all up, and nothing he testified to happened? If so – he perjured himself? Or was Comeys testimony truthful, but its fine?
    His surrogates seem to be putting out a test balloon about Trump firing Mueller. If he were to do that – would you support it?

    (By the way, my prediction based on nothing but gut feeling is that Sessions is getting massively thrown under the bus for all of this)

  5. On your first point – leaking is fine

    The leak of the memo doesn’t bug me that much. Yeah, it was a schmuck thing to do, but then so was Trump firing him the way he did. It wasn’t illegal.

    My hunch is that Trump isn’t used to not being able to NDA his employees.

    Trump could have effectively NDA’d him by claiming executive privilege. The fact that he didn’t makes me think there’s still nothing there that will get Trump impeached.

  6. Oh, this is tough, but exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for.

    On the most basic question: Did Trump ask Comey to “let Flynn go”, I think Comey is telling the truth that Trump did ask. Note that I do not believe it was unlawful or improper for Trump to do so. He could have simply ordered Comey to back off directly or even just said, “If you prosecute Flynn, I’m just going to pardon him, so knock it off” and it still would have been legal.

    Keep in mind though that Comey already testified under oath previously that he was NOT pressured to drop the investigation or otherwise interfered with before. So was he perjuring himself then or perjuring himself now by saying otherwise? In my opinion, Trump did ask but Comey didn’t see it as obstruction.

    This doesn’t mean that I think Comey is trustworthy. I’ve had no faith in him since last summer and been actively in favor of his removal since he reopened the Clinton email investigation right before the election. He has no credibility with me but then, neither does Trump.

    Whether or not Comey perjured himself on other aspects of his testimony remains to be seen. Some say that he lied when he said that he never took memos down after his conversations with Bush, but it has been shown that he did.

    As for firing Mueller, yeah, I’d be okay with it now. We’ve already had Comey acknowledge that after almost a year of investigating, there’s no proof of collusion nor is it even clear what possible charge or outcome would come about if some sort of collusion were found.

    The whole topic is hopelessly politicized and no matter what the outcome, half the country isn’t going to believe it or trust it. At this point, I think our best option is a 9/11 Commission-like independent body with broad powers of review. If nobody can articulate what crime was committed, then there shouldn’t be a special prosecutor.

  7. Eh. Trump’s ego built him an empire and won him the White House. His undoing will be his penchant for making enemies.

  8. I’ll co-sign on that. However, these distractions will go a long way to stop his agenda cold. So….mission accomplished for the Democrats.

  9. Keep in mind though that Comey already testified under oath previously that he was NOT pressured to drop the investigation or otherwise interfered with before. So was he perjuring himself then or perjuring himself now by saying otherwise? In my opinion, Trump did ask but Comey didn’t see it as obstruction.

    And if he did think that, he broke the law by not reporting it as such.

  10. They were mooting it, but it was widely discussed that he couldn’t use it in this case because he essentially waive it by his own Tweets. of course Trump said that he ‘chose’ not to, so that was never tested.

  11. If your organisation (or administration) is leaking things you don’t want them to, it’s a reflection on your leadership and management, and the fact that you can’t unify your team and get them on message.

    This is such bullshit it’s laughable. It assumes that nobody within an organization has an agenda that conflicts with the leader’s, which we clearly know not to be the case here. But yes, let’s pretend it’s Trump’s poor leadership and management that causes bureaucrats to leak to subvert his agenda, not an entrenched political interest.

  12. It assumes that nobody within an organization has an agenda that conflicts with the leader’s, which we clearly know not to be the case here.

    Leadership IS bringing people along with your agenda. It’s basically the definition of the word. If they already agree with him, then it would be easy.

    But yes, let’s pretend it’s Trump’s poor leadership and management that causes bureaucrats to leak to subvert his agenda, not an entrenched political interest.

    Whatever the motivation for the leaks, it’s still up to the Communications Team to manage that.

    Hands up anyone who’s worked in the communications team for a sitting politician. No one? Just me? OK let me Mansplain this one then.

    There are a number of ways in which you can use the press to your advantage. The most basic one is a media release. In Government terms this is an official statement. It’s usually written, but a speech has the same function. You also have responses to questions and things like press conferences. I guess now you have twitter too…

    Another way is to speak to a journalist on the record. This is when someone gives their name and the quote is attributed to them. They are generally authorised to speak on behalf of the organisation. It can get a bit murky sometimes, but generally on the record statements are about done deals, and official positions and statements. (See Gingrich, Newt.)

    The other way is a ‘leak’. This is a collective term for a number of tactics to get things into (or keep it out of) the press, without it needing to be official. This gives you freedom to point a Journo in a certain direction, float something you can deny later, put pressure on stakeholders, misdirect a Journo from a story you want to keep out of the public, or simply ensure you get more coverage for your ‘official statement’ later on. And of course you can use it for the internal politics bullshit too (See Bannon, Steve).

    Sometimes this is ‘unattributed’ – where you can quote, but not say who said it (People close to the matter said that “The President asked for eight severed kitten heads to be served on a silver platter.”)

    Or it can be ‘off the record’ – not really meant to be reported, but will point the Journo in a different direction, or give context. (This is off the record, but did you know that there’s a serious Kitten infestation at the Whitehouse, that the President is heroically taking care of?)

    In order to keep this way of working running, the team need to have relationships with a number of journos, essentially so you can get them to do what you want. So sometimes, you’ll authorise a ‘leak’ to give the Journo something juicy to take to his editor (that doesn’t cast you in a bad light) so that later when you need the Journo, you can call them up. (Say maybe you want to squash a story for a couple of days, or you want to ensure your side of the argument gets as much coverage as the opposing side.) The relationship is adversarial, but the comms team need the Journos, and the Journo’s need the comms team.

    The risk is in something being leaked that you don’t want leaked. Most of the time this is by accident (someone being off message, or just being caught off guard) and sometimes it’s deliberate (someone trying to f things up).

    It’s the Comms Team’s job to manage this balance. You manage the Press by access restrictions, or denying them future stories, and you manage your staff leading and inspiring them towards your cause (notice how young and idealistic all Obama’s staff were?), or more often by jamming their cellphones up their asses if they do something you don’t like. In The Thick Of It is a pretty accurate representation of how it works…

    So, yeah, If there are a bunch of leaks from your organisation, then the comms team isn’t being very effective at its job.

  13. It’s hard to say what this is. They’re answering questions under oath but it’s not exactly a trial so are these preemptive declarations? There’s no judge or jury here and I don’t even know how in the loop congress is on the investigation at all.

    It may be a nothing Burger to you because there’s no real conclusion (no verdict or sentencing comes of this) so an inbred dipshit like sessions can get up there to hoot and holler all he wants (which is what he did).

    The investigation is independent of this, so what’s the harm right? A perjury conviction? Lmao.

  14. Interesting summary of political communications management, but the “organization” we’re talking about isn’t a small 2-person comms team for a congressman, it’s the entire Federal security apparatus. You act like it’s no big deal to rein in leaks from literally thousands of bureaucrats, the vast majority of which are opposed to the President’s agenda, and many of which are willing to act to subvert it. It’s not a shortcoming of President Trump’s “leadership” or even necessarily a poor job by the press shop that all of this treachery is going on. While there is certainly some responsibility for Trump and his team to rein this in through effective leadership and management, there is also a responsibility among civil servants to serve the President and his agenda, not their own.

  15. I did have a paragraph in there where I acknowledged that controlling leaks in this Whitehouse is probably more of a losing battle than most places. I agree.

    But I guess more to the point – the leakers should absolutely be ‘gone after’ – but that’s the Trump admins job to do. Trump makes it sound like it’s a crime, and the feds should go after them (obviously they should for classified leaks)

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