solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
The news is a flood. I finished today's and I am already well behind.

Cultural War: "MISSOURI: Republican Lawmaker Declares There’s A “Distinction” Between Human Beings And Gays." Even the locals are "what." And "A New Wave of Bills Takes Aim at Science in the Classroom" - it's not that the are new in terms of what they're trying to do; they're not. But more are getting through.

Political repression: "President calls for criminal investigation of senator who criticized him for firing FBI director (also smear is BS)," "Democracy in Crisis: Inauguration Day Protesters Face Decades in Jail," and "West Virginia journalist arrested for asking HHS Secretary Tom Price a question." This is a terrible trend.

The Russian News Service in the White House, while American news services barred. "Did a Russian Photographer Smuggle a Surveillance Device Into the White House?," "Presence of Russian photographer in Oval Office raises alarms," "Why do none of the Trump-Russia leaks come from Russia?" and "Russia’s Oval Office Victory Dance" tell the story.

Relatedly: "Senate intel panel subpoenas Michael Flynn documents."

The rest is Comey. And there's a lot, and it's all bad. Possibly the worst: "In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred." This really is Trump following Hitler's path, as one of the first things Hitler did as Chancellor was require oaths of personal loyalty from everyone up and down the line. Not entirely dissimilarly: "Comey infuriated Trump with refusal to preview Senate testimony: aides." If true, that means Trump was testing his personal loyalty, and found it wanting.

Two on Rosenstein: "THREAD: The key player here is Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rosenstein. I spent 5 yrs in the DAG’s office under Obama. Please indulge me." and "Rosenstein takes heat over role in Comey firing."

Other reports about specific triggers: "Days Before He Was Fired, Comey Asked for Money for Russia Investigation," "Behind Comey’s firing: An enraged Trump, fuming about Russia," "Comey fired for intensifying investigation of Trump, Russia ties: report," and "In interview, Trump contradicts Pence on Comey."

"Blumenthal: Comey firing 'may well produce impeachment proceedings'" doesn't matter unless the Republicans are forced to it, and, well, see the previous news post about that.

But where it matters:

"Kellyanne Conway creates alternative reality to defend Trump’s firing of Comey"

"McConnell rejects calls for special prosecutor"

I don't know if they can bring themselves to admit what they've done.

Good luck out there.


----- 1 -----
MISSOURI: Republican Lawmaker Declares There’s A “Distinction” Between Human Beings And Gays
May 11, 2017 Christianists, Religion

http://www.joemygod.com/2017/05/11/missouri-republican-lawmaker-declares-theres-distinction-human-beings-gays/

From the editorial board of the Kansas City Star:

"Rick Brattin, a Missouri state representative from Harrisonville, seems pretty certain: Homosexuality and humanity are incompatible. “When you look at the tenets of religion, of the Bible, of the Qur’an, of other religions,” he said Monday, “there is a distinction between homosexuality and just being a human being.”

"The statement, made on the Missouri House floor, was deplorable. It betrayed a stunning lack of understanding of theology and self-government: The Constitution protects all Americans from the tyranny of any single faith-based approach to secular law."


----- 2 -----
Blumenthal: Comey firing 'may well produce impeachment proceedings'
Saba Hamedy, CNN
Updated 12:49 AM ET, Thu May 11, 2017

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/10/politics/richard-blumenthal-james-comey-cnntv/index.html

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's decision to fire his FBI director could lead to possible impeachment proceedings in Congress.

"It may well produce another United States vs. Nixon on a subpoena that went to United States Supreme Court," the Connecticut Democrat said on "Anderson Cooper 360." "It may well produce impeachment proceedings, although we're very far from that possibility."


----- 3 -----
Comey infuriated Trump with refusal to preview Senate testimony: aides
By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason | Reuters | Wed May 10, 2017

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1862WP

The anger behind Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday had been building for months, but a turning point came when Comey refused to preview for top Trump aides his planned testimony to a Senate panel, White House officials said.

Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had wanted a heads-up from Comey about what he would say at a May 3 hearing about his handling of an investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

When Comey refused, Trump and his aides considered that an act of insubordination and it was one of the catalysts to Trump’s decision this week to fire the FBI director, the officials said.


----- 4 -----
Senate intel panel subpoenas Michael Flynn documents
Chad Day, Associated Press
Thursday, May 11, 2017

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/politics/article/Senate-intel-panel-subpoenas-Michael-Flynn-11137965.php

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate intelligence committee subpoenaed former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn for documents related to the panel's investigation into Russia's election meddling.

Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner, the committee's Democratic vice chairman, issued a joint statement saying the panel decided to issue the subpoena after Flynn, through his lawyer, declined to cooperate with an April 28 request to turn over the documents.

Flynn and other associates of President Donald Trump have received similar requests from the committee for information and documents over the past few weeks.

Copies of request letters sent to longtime Trump associate Roger Stone and former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page were shared with The Associated Press. Those letters, which were nearly identical, sought emails, text messages, letters, phone records or any other relevant information they have about meetings or contacts that they or any other individual affiliated with the Trump campaign had with Russian officials or representatives of Russian business interests. They also ask for information about any financial or real estate holdings related to Russia, including any since divested or sold.

Stone, Page, Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort all received similar requests for information, a person familiar with the Senate investigation said. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the details of the committee's investigation.


----- 5 -----
Did a Russian Photographer Smuggle a Surveillance Device Into the White House?
Rhett Jones - 10 May 2017 - Gizmodo

http://gizmodo.com/did-a-russian-photographer-smuggle-a-surveillance-devic-1795113847/amp

[See also: https://twitter.com/BraddJaffy/status/862500762395582464 ]

Trump thumbed his nose at the American people on Monday by meeting with Russian officials as suspicions about his campaign ties to the country are at their peak. Adding insult to injury, the White House didn’t allow any U.S. press to be present. But Russian press got a front row seat in the Oval Office and former intelligence officials worry that they may have smuggled in surveillance equipment.

The president’s decision to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak came at an odd time. It was Trump’s first meeting after firing the man who was leading an investigation into that country’s meddling in the U.S. election. If that wasn’t weird enough, the White House barred all U.S. media from being present and claimed that they were only allowing Lavrov’s official photographer to be present.

According to a report from the Washington Post, the administration was surprised to learn that the photographer wasn’t just Lavrov’s personal photographer but is also a journalist for Russian state media outlet Tass. “We were not informed by the Russians that their official photographer was dual-hatted and would be releasing the photo


----- 6 -----
Democracy in Crisis: Inauguration Day Protesters Face Decades in Jail
“I think what’s important to highlight is that many protesters are facing 75 years in prison."
James Berbert | Washington City | May 9, 2017

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/columns/article/20860846/democracy-in-crisis-inauguration-day-protesters-face-decades-in-jail

It was almost like a smaller, less intense recap of inauguration day as
socialist Wobblies waving red Industrial Workers of the World and the
black masked anarchist ranks of ANTIFA marched up to the line of police
officers standing at attention outside the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse
in D.C. on May 1.

The demonstrators ended the day of marches and demonstrations for
workers and immigrants with a gathering to show solidarity with the
so-called 12th and L Defendants—the 200-plus activists arrested here
protesting Trump’s inauguration—to demand that their charges be
dropped.

“This Thursday, not only were more people indicted, but they added
seven new felony charges to everyone,” one of the event’s organizers
said through a megaphone.

Last month, a Northwest D.C. residence was raided in connection with
the case, and one of the occupants of that home, Dylan Petrohilos,
along with several others who were not arrested on Jan. 20, have since
been indicted for conspiracy to riot.

“Essentially the allegations against me are based on facilitating a
public meeting for public protest," Petrohilos says over the phone.
"Prosecuting people based on participation in a public protest, at the
federal level, seems like something that would happen in an
authoritarian society. I would say they are a clear violation of First
Amendment rights.”

I first met Petrohilos as he organized punk shows and benefits for
political prisoners. Now, nearly a decade later, he finds himself on
the other side of that equation, potentially a political prisoner.


----- 7 -----
West Virginia journalist arrested for asking HHS Secretary Tom Price a question
He "persisted" after he got no answers and was arrested for "Willful Disruption of State Government Processes"
10 May 2017 - Salon

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/10/west-virginia-journalist-arrested-for-asking-hhs-secretary-tom-price-a-question/

Dan Heyman, a veteran reporter for the Public News Service, was arrested Tuesday in Charleston, West Virginia for doing his job.

The West Virginia-based journalist was working on a story about whether or not domestic violence is a pre-existing condition under the GOP health-care bill, so he went to the West Virginia state capitol on Tuesday where President Donald Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, was visiting to learn more about the opioid crisis.

Heyman said that he approached Price in the hallways of the capital and repeatedly asked him if domestic violence is actually a pre-existing condition. Price refused to answer questions, but Heyman persisted anyways. Moments later, Heyman was handcuffed and arrested for “Willful Disruption of State Government Processes.”

“He had no intention but to do anything except ask a tough question,” Tim DiPiero, Heyman’s attorney, said after the incident.


----- 8 -----
Days Before He Was Fired, Comey Asked for Money for Russia Investigation
By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and MATT APUZZO | The New York Times | MAY 10, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/us/politics/comey-russia-investigation-fbi.html

WASHINGTON — Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to three officials with knowledge of his request.

Mr. Comey asked for the resources during a meeting last week with Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of the F.B.I. director this week.


----- 9 -----
Behind Comey’s firing: An enraged Trump, fuming about Russia
The president deliberated for more than a week before ousting the FBI chief who was investigating Trump associates.
By Josh Dawsey - Politico - 05/10/17

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/10/comey-firing-trump-russia-238192

President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn't call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.

He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.

Trump's firing of the high-profile FBI director on the 110th day since the president took office marked another sudden turn for an administration that has fired its acting attorney general, national security adviser and now its FBI director, whom Trump had praised until recent weeks and had even blew a kiss to during a January appearance.

The news stunned Comey, who saw news of his dismissal on TV while speaking inside the FBI office in Los Angeles. It startled all but the uppermost ring of White House advisers, who said grumbling about Comey hadn't dominated their own morning senior staff meetings. Other top officials learned just before it happened and were unaware Trump was considering firing Comey. "Nobody really knew," one senior White House official said. "Our phones all buzzed and people said, 'What?'"

By ousting the FBI director investigating his campaign and associates, Trump may have added more fuel to the fire he is furiously trying to contain — and he was quickly criticized by a chorus of Republicans and Democrats. "The timing of this firing was very troubling," said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican.


----- 10 -----
THREAD: The key player here is Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rosenstein. I spent 5 yrs in the DAG’s office under Obama. Please indulge me.
Eric Columbus‏ on Twitter | 9 May 2017

THREAD: The key player here is Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rosenstein. I spent 5 yrs in the DAG’s office under Obama. Please indulge me.
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862140805934460929

Rosenstein is a rare breed – a Bush political appointee who Obama kept on for eight years, as U.S. Attorney for Maryland. (2/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862141241697476608

Rosenstein was particularly beloved by then-Senator Barbara Mikulski, at whose recommendation Obama kept him. (3/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862141398098857984

Dems praised Rosenstein at his DAG confirmation hearing, he was confirmed 94-6, and he took office on April 25 (4/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862142695950757888

It's no coincidence that the Comey firing took place now. Trump laundered it through Rosenstein to boost its legitimacy. (5/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862142959655014400

Rosenstein's letter to Sessions blasts Comey's handling of Clinton case in terms that could have been written by a Clinton staffer. (6/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862143269492469760

But one thing Rosenstein's letter doesn't do -- and it took me a second read to note this -- is expressly recommend Comey be fired. (7/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862143804656234497

Sure, it comes very, very close to doing so. The title is "Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI" and it has language like this: (8/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862144207565225984

"FBI is unlikely 2 regain public/congressional trust until has Director who understands gravity of mistakes & pledges never 2 repeat."(9/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862145074607640576

But it never expressly recommends that POTUS fire Comey. Is this deliberate? Who knows. (10/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862145355508592640

Quite possibly Rosenstein, like most of us, thought Comey screwed up but didn't want him fired with Russia investigation pending. (11/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862145808141086720

Yet Sessions wanted a memo on Comey's sins, and Rosenstein felt he had to oblige his boss . . . (12/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862146035795333121

. . . as long as he didn't have to expressly say something he didn't believe, i.e. that Comey should be fired now. (13/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862146421587398659

I suspect that the letter's final paragraph -- whose sentences fit together awkwardly -- was highly negotiated. (14/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862146678236880896

Why does any of this matter? Sessions is recused from Russia, so it falls to Rosenstein to decide whether to appoint special counsel.(15/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862147252386758656

Rosenstein is no dummy. He knows that no one buys that Trump/Sessions wanted to fire Comey for actions they praised at the time! (16/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862147693631725569

And he cares about DOJ's reputation. He's not a hack -- he's been at DOJ for 27 years, under five different presidents. (17/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862148031755497472

Note his language about the FBI -- he worries that it now lacks "public and congressional trust." Same could be said now about DOJ. (18/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862148402909466625

Appointing a special counsel would help DOJ regain that trust -- both with the public and with Congress. (19/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862148804639952896

Sure, he's not likely to get much pushback from this Congress, but if Dems win House or Senate in 2018, all hell could break loose. (20/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862149242307174400

Comey did the wrong thing on 10/28 because he feared hell from Congress. Rosenstein could do the right thing for the same reason! (21/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862149715747639296

I think he'll do it. Would it shock me if he didn't? No, because after 2015, as you may have noticed, shock ceased to be a thing. (22/22)
https://twitter.com/EricColumbus/status/862150396990693376


----- 11 -----
Kellyanne Conway creates alternative reality to defend Trump’s firing of Comey
Conway can name many people not under investigation.

https://thinkprogress.org/kellyanne-conway-creates-alternative-reality-to-defend-trumps-firing-of-comey-3c38c5027615#---49-89

The Trump camp is trying to spin the firing of FBI Director James Comey as something that should be unobjectionable to everyone because Democrats have been critical of the way Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton.

What that rationale completely overlooks is that Trump has a massive conflict of interest — his campaign is currently under FBI investigation for possible collusion with Russia.

That investigation was confirmed by Comey less than two months ago. One of the main lines of defense Trump used to fend off accusations of collusion fell apart during a Senate hearing on Monday. Given the circumstances, the firing of Comey certainly appears to be an attempt to kneecap ongoing investigations.

Enter Kellyanne Conway, the White House adviser of “alternative facts” fame. During a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper, Conway managed to look into the camera and claim with a straight face that Trump isn’t under under FBI investigation after all.


----- 12 -----
Why do none of the Trump-Russia leaks come from Russia?
By Matthew Chance, CNN
Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT) May 10, 2017

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/09/europe/russia-leaks-putin-power/index.html

"Why does Russia never leak?" I asked the investigative journalist sitting opposite me in a dingy Moscow café.

He took gulp of espresso coffee, then after realizing I wasn't joking, he told me.

"Because they kill you, of course," he said.

It was a point well made in a country where journalists, campaigners and even opposition figures have met sticky ends.

For my contact, it was that risk of retribution that accounted for the drought of information in Russia about contacts between the Trump campaign or administration officials and the Kremlin.

Indeed, the lack of life-threatening consequences for leakers in the United States may partially explain why there has been such a deluge of information from there, albeit information that is sometimes flawed, factually, that is.


----- 13 -----
President calls for criminal investigation of senator who criticized him for firing FBI director (also smear is BS)
Matt Gertz on Twitter | 10 May 2017

President calls for criminal investigation of senator who criticized him for firing FBI director (also smear is BS)
https://twitter.com/MattGertz/status/862287105422176257
[Images, link at tweet]


----- 14 -----
McConnell rejects calls for special prosecutor
Most Republicans give President Donald Trump a pass for the sudden firing of the FBI director.
By Burgess Everett , Austin Wright and Seung Min Kim - Politico - 05/10/17

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/10/mcconnell-rejects-call-for-special-prosecutor-238206

Republicans are giving President Donald Trump a pass for his surprise decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, even though a number of GOP senators appeared uncomfortable defending the president’s timing amid a brewing investigation into his administration’s ties to Russia.

After a flurry of GOP statements Tuesday night criticizing Trump for axing Comey so suddenly, there were no new Republican calls on Wednesday for a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections or possible collusion with the Trump campaign. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Wednesday forcefully rejected calls for an independent prosecutor or commission.

Though senators did ask for a fuller accounting of why Comey was fired, Republicans by and large defended Trump against a Democratic firestorm of criticism.

"Today we'll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done," McConnell said on the Senate floor, referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee's probe of Russia's election meddling.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led the Democratic Party's calls for a special prosecutor calls and demanded that McConnell call an all-senators closed briefing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

But Republicans GOP are putting their faith in the Senate Intelligence Committee and career FBI investigators to conduct investigations that they say will not be partisan in nature. Comey's sudden dismissal, they said, should not affect the work of the Senate intelligence panel or the FBI.

“How a special prosecutor is selected, no one is going to be content with that process either,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview. “The career folks in the FBI are still the ones running the investigation. Let’s not besmirch all the career folks in the FBI for a transition that’s happening at the top.”


----- 15 -----
If we assume they're not inept, then it's signaling: we have the power - we dare you to stop us. Try and we'll burn the house down.
Thread on Twitter - 10 May 2017

[Thread]

If we assume they're not inept, then it's signaling: we have the power - we dare you to stop us. Try and we'll burn the house down.
https://twitter.com/JasminMuj/status/862339847847108614



----- 16 -----
Presence of Russian photographer in Oval Office raises alarms
By Carol Morello and Greg Miller - The Washington Post - May 10, 2017

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-to-meet-russian-foreign-minister-at-the-white-house-as-moscows-alleged-election-interference-is-back-in-spotlight/2017/05/10/c6717e4c-34f3-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html

A photographer for a Russian state-owned news agency was allowed into
the Oval Office on Wednesday during President Trump’s meeting with
Russian diplomats, a level of access that was criticized by former U.S.
intelligence officials as a potential security breach.

The officials cited the danger that a listening device or other
surveillance equipment could have been brought into the Oval Office
while hidden in cameras or other electronics. Former U.S. intelligence
officials raised questions after photos of Trump’s meeting with Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were posted online by the Tass news
agency.

Among those commenting on the issue was former deputy CIA director
David S. Cohen. Responding to a question posed online about whether it
was a sound decision to allow the photographer into the Oval Office,
Cohen replied on Twitter: “No it was not.” He declined to elaborate
when reached by phone.

The White House played down the danger, saying that the photographer
and his equipment were subjected to a security screening before he and
it entered the White House grounds. The Russian “had to go through the
same screening as a member of the U.S. press going through the main
gate to the [White House] briefing room,” a senior administration
official said.


----- 17 -----
James Comey’s farewell letter to his FBI colleagues, annotated
By Callum Borchers - May 10, 2017 - the washington post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/05/10/james-comeys-farewell-letter-to-his-fbi-colleagues-annotated/

To all:

I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any
reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the
decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is
done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission
deeply.

I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American
people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and
independence. What makes leaving the FBI hard is the nature and quality
of its people, who together make it that rock for America.

It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to
doing the right thing. My hope is that you will continue to live our
values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding
the Constitution.

If you do that, you too will be sad when you leave, and the American
people will be safer.

Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you
for that gift.

Jim Comey


----- 18 -----
From Fox News to the Senate floor, Republicans close ranks behind Trump firing Comey
By David Weigel - May 10, 2017 - the washington post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/05/10/from-fox-news-to-the-senate-floor-republicans-close-ranks-behind-trump-firing-comey/

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Democrats'
outcry against President Trump's firing of former FBI director James
Comey and opposed their call for an independent investigation on May
10, saying it "could only serve to impede the current work being done."
(U.S. Senate)

In the hours since President Trump sacked James B. Comey as FBI
director, the splashiest headlines have gone to Republican critics of
the move. Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the chairman of the Senate
Intelligence Committee — which was set to hear from Comey this week —
said he was “troubled” by the move. After initially saying little, Sen.
John McCain (Ariz.) told CNN that he had “questions.” Rep. Justin Amash
(Mich.), a rebellious libertarian-leaning congressman, received an
unusual amount of attention after tweeting that he was “reviewing”
legislation to create a special prosecutor, empowered to look into any
Russian collusion with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

But for most elected Republicans, and on conservative-leaning media,
the story last night and today has been a cut-and-dry case of
Democratic Party hypocrisy. Despite the White House’s
deer-in-headlights PR response to questions, most of the president’s
allies have robustly defended him, syncing up with the preferred story
line that the president did what most Americans had been craving.

The spin started Tuesday night, when relatively few Republicans were
available to speak on TV. The House is in a week-long recess, and the
Senate had adjourned for the day by the time the Comey news broke. But
the very first Republican statement on the decision, from Sen. Lindsey
O. Graham (S.C.) — a Trump critic who favors a Russia investigation —
said blandly that “given the recent controversies surrounding the
director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation
well.”

On Fox News Channel, all Tuesday evening, Democrats faced Socratic
questioning about how they could have criticized Comey’s handling of
the Hillary Clinton email matter and be genuinely outraged now. Rep.
Tim Ryan’s appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Fox News’s 8 p.m.
show largely consisted of the host asking the Ohio Democrat if members
of his party really were sad to see the end of Comey. Anyone watching
the nation’s most popular cable news network was informed that the
questions about Russia amounted to a “conspiracy theory,” and that the
case for dumping Comey was bipartisan

“Is it good or bad that Jim Comey is no longer running the FBI?”
Carlson asked.

“I think it’s an issue of timing, Tucker, and you can’t ignore that
fact,” Ryan said, reiterating his party’s questions about Russia and
the election.

“I understand your complaint, sort of,” Carlson said. “But I think
people at home want to know: Was the right guy running the FBI or not?
If not, why isn’t there rejoicing on the Democratic side of the House
and Senate?”

Ryan had a deadpan response. “Because he’s in the middle of an
investigation,” he said. “Look, we had Vladimir Putin get involved in
our election.”

“You’ve already conceded, the leaders of your party have conceded and
complained about the fact that Comey was not a reliable leader of the
FBI,” Carlson said. “They thought he was flaky, and they said so. Why
would you want someone like that in charge of any investigation?”

“The Republicans, including Donald Trump, were praising Comey in
October of last year,” Ryan said. “And now, all of a sudden, he’s doing
a 180. Don’t you find that a little bit peculiar? That in October, he
has guts, and in April or May of this year he’s unfit?”

Carlson’s answer was interrupted by a live shot of Comey entering a
private plane after canceling a planned speech in Los Angeles. But at 9
p.m. Eastern time, Sean Hannity’s eponymous Fox News show changed the
tone from quizzical to celebratory.

“This is the first step in President Trump draining the deep state
swamp,” he said at the top of his broadcast. “James Comey, the former
FBI director, is a national embarrassment. Frankly, he’s very lucky
President Trump kept him around this long.”

After playing a clip from Comey’s news conference in July, where the
FBI director declined to pursue a case against Clinton, Hannity told
viewers that Comey “didn’t deliver equal justice under the law.”

“James Comey, the Destroy Trump Media, the radical left — they sat on
the sidelines,” Hannity said. He brought on Newt Gingrich, a stalwart
Trump supporter, for a mutual venting session; the chyron at the bottom
of the screen read, “Trump to Comey: You’re Fired.”

“If Newt Gingrich had done the things Hillary Clinton did, you’d be in
jail tonight, and I’d be visiting you with a cake and a file,” Hannity
said.

On Wednesday morning, the tone was even more sympathetic to Trump — and
more damning of Democrats — on “Fox and Friends,” the network’s
bright-hued morning show. Several Republicans appeared, making their
first on-camera analysis; all defended Trump. Sen. Charles E. Grassley
(Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — and an
indefatigable investigator of Clinton’s emails — opened his interview
by saying that the deputy attorney general who’d advised Comey’s firing
was well-respected by both parties.

“Is it just political?” asked Fox’s Ainsley Earhart. “Is it anything
Donald Trump does, they hate?”

“I think it gave them a chance to get back to something that they
argued about a month ago, and it was losing steam; to have a special
prosecutor or have a commission to look into it,” Grassley said. When
it came to criticizing Comey, “they really don’t have a lot of
credibility based on what they said last October when Comey reopened
the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Consequently, I don’t think
they have much credibility.”

In another segment, Ed Henry, Fox News’s chief national correspondent
and a former White House reporter, joined the hosts in deriding the
idea that anything untoward had happened.

“Democrats going wild — spewing out conspiracy theories!” said co-host
Brian Kilmeade, as the chyron below him read “Libs Lashing Out” and
“Democrats’ Double Standard.”

“The bottom line here is that a former Trump adviser, Pete Hoekstra,
says there is no ‘there’ there,” Henry said.

Later, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who had advised Trump about court
nominations, appeared on the show to say the president had delivered on
something long demanded by supporters and critics alike.

“The FBI serves at the pleasure of the president,” he said. “Even
though has a 10-year term, the president can fire him for any reason.
President Trump clearly wanted to make a strong statement. Some of us
have been calling for this since July 5, when he had that bizarre press
conference saying no reasonable prosecutor would pursue a case against
Hillary Clinton.”

And toward the end of the show, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made the first
of several Fox News appearances to commend Trump’s decision, and raise
attention to his accusation that the Obama administration had spied on
his presidential campaign. When Paul’s segment ended, “Fox and Friends”
began a segment about Andrew McCabe, now the acting director of the
FBI, whose wife ran for office in Virginia as a Democrat and had been
supported by “Clinton allies,” including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

In other words, there was little of the bipartisan outrage that greeted
President Richard Nixon when he fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox
in 1973, leading to the resignations that became known as the “Saturday
Night Massacre.” Early Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Whip John
Cornyn (R-Tex.), a former judge and state attorney general, linked
favorably to an op-ed about Democratic hypocrisy. (It ran in the Wall
Street Journal, which, like Fox News, is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s
NewsCorp.)

Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared
before cameras for the first time since the story broke, using his
daily speech on the floor to chide Democrats for demanding a special
investigation.

“Here’s what we have now: Our Democratic colleagues complaining about
the removal of an FBI director who they, themselves, repeatedly and
sharply criticized,” he said. “That removal being done by a man, Rod
Rosenstein, whom they repeatedly and effusively praised. Mr. Rosenstein
recommended Mr. Comey’s removal for many of the very reasons they
complained about.”


----- 19 -----
Comey fired for intensifying investigation of Trump, Russia ties: report
By Brandon Carter - 05/10/17 - The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332819-trump-fired-comey-for-not-providing-him-assurance-of-personal-loyalty

A source says former FBI director James Comey was fired by President Trump for two reasons: refusing to offer personal loyalty to Trump, and the FBI's intensifying investigation into possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.

The source, a person close to Comey, shared the two reasons with CNN Wednesday. The information contradicts the reasoning for Comey's firing as explained by the Trump administration.

Earlier on Wednesday, the White House said that Trump has been considering firing Comey since he took office in January.

...

The White House denied that Trump ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein to come up with a reason to fire Comey.

Trump both praised and criticized Comey during his 2016 campaign for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and in April said in an interview that he “had confidence” in Comey.


----- 20 -----
A New Wave of Bills Takes Aim at Science in the Classroom
May 8, 2017 / by Katie Worth / WGBH Boston

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/a-new-wave-of-bills-takes-aim-at-science-in-the-classroom/

In Idaho, lawmakers removed references to climate change from the state’s science standards. In Alabama and Indiana, they passed resolutions urging support for educators who teach “diverse” views on climate change, evolution and human cloning. And in Florida, the legislature on Friday adopted one bill that would give educators and students more freedom to express religious beliefs in school, and a second that would give residents new power to oppose classroom materials they dislike — including science textbooks.

Across the country, proposals that would influence how topics like climate change and evolution are taught in public schools have gained traction. Eleven such measures have been introduced in nine Republican-dominated states since January. Of those 11, three have been adopted. The Florida bills await the signature of Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Four bills in other states died shortly after introduction, while two others narrowly failed.

...

“They vary a lot, but what they have in common is, if passed, they would all tend to undermine the integrity of science education,” said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that tracks and advocates against such legislation. “That’s why we’re against them, science teachers are against them, school boards are against them.”

The group has been tracking state bills for more than two decades, and based on their data from the past 14 years, 2017’s proposals are not only more numerous than usual, they’ve gotten further than ever before.


----- 21 -----
After Comey, Justice Must Be Served
Congress needs to get serious about holding the president accountable.
by Michael R. Bloomberg | Bloomberg News | May 10, 2017

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-10/after-comey-justice-must-be-served

If President Donald Trump thinks he can fire his way out of the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, he is sorely mistaken -- and attempting to do so makes him look weak and fearful, undermines the rule of law, and diminishes what little prospects there were for bipartisan legislation. Given Democrats’ frequent attacks on Trump and FBI Director James Comey, only Republicans have the credibility needed to contain the damage and save Trump from himself. Now they must show they have the backbone to do it.

A memo from the Justice Department laying out the rationale for Trump’s firing of Comey mostly criticized his handling of last year’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email arrangement. The memo is not the issue. The issue is why Trump now claims to find it persuasive, when it merely rehashes arguments that have been swirling for nearly a year -- and contradicts Trump’s effusive praise of Comey last fall, after he revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was reviewing more Clinton-related emails. After the election, and in the months since his inauguration, Trump gave no indication that he would fire him.

So what changed?

Well, Comey recently confirmed that the FBI was probing whether Trump’s associates had colluded with Russia in trying to sway the election. Federal prosecutors have reportedly issued grand jury subpoenas in the case. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that European spy agencies had shared information about suspicious interactions between Trump’s campaign and Russian agents. And so on.

If there are in fact innocent explanations for all of the above, Trump has never come close to offering one. He insists, alternately, that the episode is “a total hoax,” “a total scam” or “FAKE NEWS.”

The problem is that this supposedly fake news keeps having very real consequences. It led to the resignation of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. It led to the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. It led to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Representative Devin Nunes both recusing themselves from investigations. It may have even been a factor in the firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.


----- 22 -----
Russia’s Oval Office Victory Dance
The cozy meeting between President Trump and Russia’s foreign minister came at Vladimir Putin’s insistence.
By Susan B. Glasser - Politico - May 10, 2017

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/10/james-comey-firing-trump-lavrov-putin-215124

When President Donald Trump hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office on Wednesday just hours after firing the FBI director who was overseeing an investigation into whether Trump’s team colluded with the Russians, he was breaking with recent precedent at the specific request of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The chummy White House visit—photos of the president yukking it up with Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak were released by the Russian Foreign Ministry since no U.S. press was allowed to cover the visit—had been one of Putin’s asks in his recent phone call with Trump, and indeed the White House acknowledged this to me later Wednesday. “He chose to receive him because Putin asked him to,” a White House spokesman said of Trump’s Lavrov meeting. “Putin did specifically ask on the call when they last talked.”

The meeting was Lavrov’s first in the White House since 2013—and came after several years of the Obama administration’s flat-out refusal to grant him an Oval Office audience, two former senior White House officials told me. “The Russians were begging us for years to do that,” one of the former officials said. “They were constantly pushing for it and we were constantly saying no.”

The images of Trump putting his arm genially on Lavrov’s back—and a later White House official readout of the meeting that said Trump “emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia”—couldn’t have come at a more fraught political moment for Trump, amid a barrage of bipartisan criticism of his firing of FBI Director James Comey. On Wednesday morning before meeting with Trump, Lavrov even cracked a joke about his hosts’ political predicament, laughingly claiming not to have heard of the Comey firing while standing alongside Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

In other words, Lavrov was right where he has always wanted to be Wednesday: mocking the United States while being welcomed in the Oval Office by the president himself.

Russia’s longest-serving foreign minister of the post-Cold War era, Lavrov has worked alongside Putin since 2004 with a single-minded goal: to make Russia great again—and all the better if he could do so at America’s expense. So, for Lavrov and Putin, the scene was more than just a bizarre moment of Washington political theater in which they played walk-on roles. It was vindication, proof that their tilt toward Trump after years of tense dealings with two successive American presidents could yet pay off.


----- 23 -----
In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT - May 11, 2017 - The New York Times

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/us/politics/trump-comey-firing.html

WASHINGTON — Only seven days after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, James B. Comey has told associates, the F.B.I. director was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one dinner with the new commander in chief.

The conversation that night in January, Mr. Comey now believes, was a harbinger of his downfall this week as head of the F.B.I., according to two people who have heard his account of the dinner.

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense.

The White House says this account is not correct. And Mr. Trump, in an interview on Thursday with NBC, described a far different dinner conversation with Mr. Comey in which the director asked to have the meeting and the question of loyalty never came up. It was not clear whether he was talking about the same meal, but they are believed to have had only one dinner together.


----- 24 -----
In interview, Trump contradicts Pence on Comey
Pence has said this week that Trump fired the FBI director following the recommendation of the DOJ, but the president himself said Thursday that wasn't the case.
By Matthew Nussbaum , Josh Dawsey and Tara Palmeri - Politico - 05/11/17

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/11/james-comey-fired-trump-contradict-pence-238274

Vice President Mike Pence has once again delivered the White House line, in the face of growing contradictory evidence, on a charged topic related to Russia’s possible connections to the Trump campaign.

In meetings on Capitol Hill and in interviews, Pence has said this week that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“Let me be very clear that the president’s decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the American people and to ensuring that the FBI has the trust and confidence of the people this nation,” Pence told reporters Wednesday.

But Trump said in an interview with NBC on Thursday that he’d planned to fire Comey no matter what Rosenstein told him. “I was gonna fire regardless of recommendation,” Trump told Lester Holt. “Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey.”


----- 25 -----
Rosenstein takes heat over role in Comey firing
Democratic lawmakers challenge deputy AG over memo Trump used to explain dismissal.
By Josh Gerstein and Josh Dawsey - Politico - 05/11/17

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/11/rod-rosenstein-blamed-james-comey-firing-238266

Democrats once saw Rod Rosenstein as their best hope to ensure the FBI carried out an unflinching and impartial investigation into alleged contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

No more.

Rosenstein’s intimate involvement in the stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey this week has imperiled the reputation he established as a fair broker — a reputation that earned him U.S. attorney appointments under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The deputy attorney general scrambled Thursday to try to assuage those concerns, but several prominent Democratic lawmakers went public with their dismay at Rosenstein’s role in Comey’s abrupt ouster.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Chris Murphy all sent clear signals to Rosenstein that he’d done damage by preparing the three-page memo the Trump White House used to justify getting rid of the FBI chief, despite the bureau’s ongoing Russia probe.

“I’ve now read Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo three times. With each read I’ve become more troubled by the contents of this unusual document," said Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee that oversees the Justice Department and the FBI.

Democrats had hoped Rosenstein would keep an eye on the Russia investigation, and Schumer said when Rosenstein was confirmed to his position at the Justice Department in March that he had agreed to appoint a special prosecutor in the case if necessary. Now, Democrats are publicly questioning his judgment.

Date: 2017-05-13 01:18 am (UTC)
armiphlage: (Daniel)
From: [personal profile] armiphlage
My city suffered under Rob Ford, until cancer took him away.

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