Back in September, when the New York Times reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein might have floated the idea of recording Trump in the White House in an effort to lay bare just how tumultuous this administration really was in the days following the firing of James Comey, we took the opportunity to remind everyone about just how bad the optics were in an around Comey’s dismissal.
Rosenstein reportedly hinted at the recordings and at a possible effort to gather support for removing the President just after Comey was summarily ousted (ironically thanks to a letter penned by Rosenstein himself, who was obviously hoodwinked into participating in obstruction).
He would later downplay the Times report and there was rampant speculation that it was planted by the administration as a pretext for removing the Deputy AG, but let’s just assume, for our purposes here, that there was at least a kernel of truth in that story.
An aggravating factor for those who were appalled by Comey’s dismissal was Trump’s subsequent decision to invite both Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak to the Oval Office. The meeting with the two unfolded just hours after Comey was fired and produced a series of disconcerting visuals, including this one:
You’re reminded that Lavrov (left) lampooned Comey’s firing in a presser with Rex Tillerson just before the picture shown above was taken.
Later, reports suggested Trump shared classified intelligence with Lavrov and Kislyak, unprompted.
Well, guess what? In and around that time, the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was in fact working for the Kremlin.
“In the days after President Trump fired James Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests”, the New York Times reports, citing former law enforcement officials.
Counterintelligence investigators, the Times says, set out to determine if the President posed a threat to national security and also whether Trump was knowingly acting at the behest of Russia or whether he was simply too stupid to realize what was happening. The investigation (subsequently passed to Robert Mueller) also involved a probe into whether Trump had obstructed justice, a criminal act.
The Times goes on to say that senior FBI officials had been wary of Trump’s possible ties to Russian intelligence since 2016, but were not sure how to proceed due to the “sensitivity and magnitude” of the issue, but “the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry.”
Both the criminal and counterintelligence aspects were rolled up into a single investigation given that obstruction in this case would amount to a national security threat if said obstruction was aimed at shutting down or otherwise putting the brakes on efforts to discern the Kremlin’s role in influencing the outcome of the 2016 election.
Do take a moment to appreciate the gravity of this. This wasn’t just a “collusion” investigation. This was an actual FBI counterintelligence probe into whether the President of the United States was a literal Russian agent.
Giuliani offered the following half-hearted effort to suggest that this is nothing for the public to be concerned about:
The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing.
Actually, no, Rudy. No, it doesn’t “mean” that. What it “means” is that this was handed off to Mueller and as the Times writes, “it is unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter.”
In other words, it’s entirely possible that part of Mueller’s investigation involves not just “collusion” and not just “obstruction”, but an actual counterintelligence probe into whether the man sitting in the Oval Office was (and still is) a Russian agent, albeit a moronic one. Here’s another key passage from the story:
A vigorous debate has taken shape among some former law enforcement officials outside the case over whether F.B.I. investigators overreacted in opening the counterintelligence inquiry during a tumultuous period at the Justice Department. Other former officials noted that those critics were not privy to all of the evidence and argued that sitting on it would have been an abdication of duty.
There you go, America. The people privy to “all of the evidence” thought it would have been an “abdication of [their] duty” (where that means protecting the interests of the United States) not to swiftly open a counterintelligence investigation into Trump.
Hilariously (and fittingly) it was Trump’s own bombast that did him in. According to the Times’ sources, the last straw was the following soundbite from the Oval Office meeting shown in the indelible image above.
I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.
In fact, it was the furthest thing from “taken off”. That very quote was reportedly the deciding factor in the FBI’s decision to move ahead with a counterintelligence probe, and if you think for a second that Mueller isn’t still pursuing this in light of the voluminous evidence he’s gathered over the course of his other investigations, well, I’ve got a “Trump U.” seminar I’d like to sell you.
As you can probably imagine, Trump isn’t amused. Here is what an innocent man does not say (this is everything Trump has tweeted on Saturday in response to the story):
Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze! Funny thing about James Comey. Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike. After the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she was interviewed on July 4th Weekend, not recorded or sworn in, and where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie), the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership and the way he handled the Clinton mess (not to mention his usurpation of powers from the Justice Department). My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats – leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch! I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!
That is so laughably guilty-sounding that you almost feel sorry for a man whose mental capacity has deteriorated to the point where he isn’t capable of understanding when he’s implicating himself, on the record, to 57 million people.
“I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” — FDR
— James Comey (@Comey) January 12, 2019