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The Comey hearing: More smoke, wrong fire

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About a month ago, National Review editor Rich Lowry called Trump “a human smoke-making machine . . . incapable of a little deftness.”  The headline of his opinion piece in Politico characterized the entire Trump-focused wing of the investigation into Russian election interference as “a scandal about smoke.”

When they saw all the Trump-fueled smoke, said Lowry, the Democrats wanted “to make fire.”  And when Comey suddenly decided he wanted to testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee, many on the Left christened this the Great Fire-Making Moment.

The narrative almost wrote itself.  Comey had been director of the FBI; Trump had fired him due to the Russia investigation; Trump had perhaps pressured Comey to let the investigation of Michael Flynn go.  Surely on June 8, the smoke would roll back to reveal a giant conflagration – Comey would accuse Trump of obstruction, let slip that Trump was part of a giant Russian conspiracy, reveal something, anything impeachable.  Doctor visits were canceled, watch parties were scheduled, and cable news networks broke out their countdown clocks.

What are those who pushed that narrative left with now?

Well, Comey did confirm that the leak of his memos was accurate, that Trump told him he “hoped” the Flynn investigation would be dropped because Flynn was, in Trump’s estimation, a “good guy.”  Comey said that due to Trump’s “imperceptible body language,” he took this as a direction to stop the investigation.

But Trump said the very same thing about Flynn to the press, if you recall.  And whatever Comey’s “feelings” about whether Trump meant what he said as a direction, it’s a stretch to use Comey’s feelings as the sole basis of obstruction.  To my knowledge, an “I hope” statement has never been used as the sole basis for an obstruction charge.

Comey went on to reveal that the president had made false public statements, didn’t seem to be that concerned about Russian election interference, had directly asked for his loyalty, and had fired him because of his handling of the Russia investigation.

None of that information was new.  More smoke; no fire.  Collective yawns all around.

Instead, the Comey hearing turned a flamethrower on the charred remains of the Clinton email investigation.  Comey revealed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had asked him to refer to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s email server as a “matter” rather than an “investigation.”  Perhaps not so coincidentally, this is the rhetoric the Clinton campaign was using at the same time.

What’s that?  Evidence of Lynch’s DOJ colluding with the Democratic Party?  Will wonders never cease.

It’s astonishing to me that Comey chose not to investigate Loretta Lynch in relation to the Clinton email imbroglio after his encounter with her, especially given Lynch’s well-documented meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Arizona.  Lynch’s alleged interference in the Clinton investigation must not have had as much “intent” as that alleged in the Trump investigation, I suppose.

Comey’s hearing boiled down to a long, drawn-out attempt by Comey to justify his actions in the Clinton and Trump investigations by slant. It really didn’t work.

Nothing said at the Comey hearing changed my opinion that Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation and the Russia election investigation both bordered on incompetence.  Frankly, that’s the only justification Trump needed for his firing, though that’s not the one he gave.  As Mr. Lowry said almost a month ago, Trump reliably produces smoke, but even after today’s circus, I see no accompanying fire.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Bryan Woodsmall

    June 9, 2017 at 9:36 am

    This is an interesting piece, and you make some good points.

    However, if there is “no fire” in the Trump smoke, then why is the info about Lynch’s alleged interference, which you say had “as much ‘intent’ as that alleged in the Trump investigation” tantamount to a “flamethrower”?

    The “intent” is “as much”, yet with one it is only smoke, and with the other it is a flamethrower. I don’t get that.

    I enjoyed the article. It was informative and thought provoking. But elevating the revelations about Lynch as being more damning than the info about Trump seems like partisan spin to me. In fact, both are bad. Some of the info about Lynch is new. That is one difference. Also, Lynch tried to give the appearance of being above the fray, while Trump doesn’t really try to hide his dishonesty and lack of principles. But if Trump’s problems are just smoke, then so are Lynch’s.

    • Connor Mighell

      June 9, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Hi, Bryan. Thanks for your comment. The sentence about “intent” which left you so bewildered was meant as a joke. When Comey announced that he wasn’t going to recommend charges against Clinton in the email scandal. Comey justified his actions by saying he found no evidence Clinton intended to do anything illegal. However, the crime Clinton allegedly committed does not require proof of intent to establish guilt. My statement about Lynch’s intent was meant as a joke about Comey’s ability to treat intent as consequential in cases when it isn’t. Once again, thanks for reading.

  2. Bryan Woodsmall

    June 9, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Ok, I see that I missed the joke, and I missed the word “not” which I now understand as sarcasm that seems more to suggest that Lynch’s interference was perhaps worse than Trump’s, rather than suggest equivalence.

    At any rate, your point was NOT to say they were of similar seriousness, so my bad.

    Still, while I agree that the revelation that Lynch asked Comey to use the word “matter” instead of “investigation” is a big deal, I don’t see it as a “flamethrower” vs. just “smoke” from the Trump situation. For one thing, asking the FBI to assist with spin doesn’t constitute interference in the investigation itself. It is totally improper for sure, especially since it is the same word the Clinton administration was using, but it still doesn’t amount to actually interfering with the investigation.

    Your point about Comey treating intent as consequential when it isn’t is well taken. It kind of seemed like he was trying to thread a needle with a legal and logical explanation for his decision. I don’t know the law well enough to know whether he succeeded. However, in my opinion his actions were very beneficial to the Republican candidate (I’m not saying it was intentional). Had he indicted Clinton, I think she would have been replaced as the Democratic nominee. The new nominee would have had a headwind due to not being chosen by the normal process, but probably would have been a MUCH better candidate than Hillary Clinton. By not indicting her he took away the Dems need to replace her, and by being very critical of her he helped her opponent. So it was a win-win for Trump. And then he disclosed very late in the race that more emails had come to light, and needed to be looked at. I won’t argue either way whether that tipped the election, but it was helpful to Trump in a close race.

    I am not knowledgeable enough to assess Comey’s competence or lack thereof, but I think Trump supporters should be grateful for the way he handled the Clinton investigation.

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Politics

Hey, Jeff Flake! The GOP is already toast!

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Hey Jeff Flake The GOP is already toast

At a tax-reform event held in Arizona over the weekend, soon-to-be ex-Senator Jeff Flake was caught on a hot mic whining about the imminent death of the GOP. Speaking to his good friend, Mesa Mayor John Giles, Flake said “If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.”

Unfortunately for Flake, his analysis is a day late and a dollar short. The GOP has pretty much been toast ever since Ronald Reagan’s last day in office. That’s when RINOs took over the party and turned it over to big-government Republicans like George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner.

Ever since Ronnie rode off into the California sunset, conservative values have been relegated to the dustbin of broken campaign promises only to be conveniently brought out every election season to steal money and votes.

Flake’s statement is wrong for a few more reasons: Roy Moore is a threat to people like Flake because he is running against the establishment, and the GOP has already become the party of Donald Trump.

For example, before he decided to pass on re-election next year, polls showed Flake was already likely to lose in the primary to Kelli Ward, who’s running as a Trumplican. Trumplicanism has replaced conservatism as the new identity of the Republican Party as it embraces all things Trump under the mistaken belief that his populist brand of politics is what defines conservatism today.

This sad reality is a direct result of RINOs like Jeff Flake.

Ironically, Flake confirmed the importance of the conservative values he long abandoned with the release of his book earlier this year, “Conscience of a Conservative,” a title essentially plagiarized from a book written by the man credited with reigniting the conservative movement back in the 1960’s, Barry Goldwater.

Because it’s election season, Flake hoped his book could be a sort of get-out-of-RINO-jail-free card as he attempted to at least give the appearance that he was the conservative we all know he isn’t. But hey, if you’re going to write about something you know absolutely nothing about, steal the words of someone who did, right?

Jeff Flake blames everyone but himself and his fellow RINOs for the sorry state of the GOP, but these lying liars are fully responsible for the rise of Donald Trump and the Trumplican Party.

The good news is that the GOP is already toast. Let’s replace it with a true conservative party.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

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News

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has agreed to resign. Update: He didn’t.

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Zimbabwes Robert Mugabe has agreed to resign source

Update

Once again, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has defied calls for his resignation, allowing a deadline set by his party to pass without a word.

Zimbabwe crisis: Deadline passes for Mugabe to quit as party leader

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42048412Members of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party are preparing to meet to discuss the possible impeachment of President Robert Mugabe, after a deadline for his resignation came and went on Monday.

The deadline was set by Mr Mugabe’s own party, Zanu-PF.

The embattled leader surprised Zimbabweans on Sunday, declaring on TV that he planned to remain as president.

Original Story

Reports came in yesterday that Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe would be stepping down instead of going through impeachment, but in a speech on state-run television he did not step down. Now, a new report is coming in that he has agreed to step down, having drafted a resignation letter.

As has been the case for nearly four decades with the tyrannical strongman, reports about him are subject to change. ZANU-PF, the party that he led until yesterday afternoon when they removed him, have given him until noon today (5am EST) to resign or they will request impeachment. The parliament does not meet on Mondays, so if he doesn’t step down he likely won’t be tried until the next day.

Based upon information from a CNN source, the leader has reached an agreement that would give him full immunity and allow him to keep his possessions.

Further Reading

Source: Zimbabwe’s Mugabe agrees to terms of resignation

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/20/africa/zimbabwe-mugabe/index.htmlAn official source with direct knowledge of negotiations says that Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe has agreed to the terms of his resignation and a letter has been drafted.

The source said generals had given into many of Mugabe’s demands including full immunity for himself and his wife Grace, and also that he would keep his private properties.

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe has until noon to stand down or face impeachment | Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-zimbabwe-politics/zimbabwes-mugabe-has-until-noon-to-stand-down-or-face-impeachment-idUSKBN1DK0H1?il=0Zimbabwe’s liberation war veterans, who have been among the most vocal in calling for Mugabe’s resignation, will hold a media briefing at 9.30 a.m.

Moments after Mugabe’s address, war veterans leader Chris Mutsvangwa told Reuters they would lead public protests in the streets of Harare, cranking up the pressure on Zimbabwe’s ruler of the last 37 years.

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Guns and Crime

Charles Manson is dead

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Charles Manson is dead

The satanic ringleader behind several gruesome murders in California in 1969, Charles Manson, has died of natural causes Sunday, one week after his birthday. He was 83.

Over a five-week period in the summer of 1969, Manson’s minions carried out nine murders attached to his orders. Even after his incarceration, as many as 35 murders were committed by members of his cult. Though Manson did not participate directly in the murders, his leadership of the cult that killed on his orders earned him the death penalty. His sentence was commuted to nine life sentences when California annulled death sentences issued before 1972. He was sentenced in 1971 and spent 46 years in jail, costing tax-payers millions of dollars.

Further Reading

Charles Manson, mastermind of 1969 murders, dies at 83

http://beta.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-charles-manson-20171119-story.htmlManson did not commit the murders himself; instead he persuaded his group of followers to carry out the killings. The crimes received frenzied news coverage, because so many lurid and sensational elements coalesced at the time — Hollywood celebrity, cult behavior, group sex, drugs and savage murders that concluded with the killers scrawling words with their victims’ blood.

Los Angeles residents were terrified by the crimes. Before the killers were apprehended, gun sales and guard dog purchases skyrocketed and locksmiths had weeks-long waiting lists. Numerous off-duty police officers were hired to guard homes in affluent neighborhoods and security firms tripled in size.

Charles Manson is rotting in hell | New York Post

https://nypost.com/2017/11/20/mass-murderer-charles-manson-dead-at-83/Manson — who infamously wore a swastika tattoo between his eyebrows — had spent more than 45 years in prison after being convicted of directing his “Manson Family” clan of troubled, mostly female, followers to kill seven people in California in the summer of 1969. The dead included actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, who was stabbed 16 times.

“I am crime,” Manson proudly proclaimed during a collect call to The Post from prison in the mid-2000s.

Obituary: Charles Manson

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36091052When his mother was paroled in 1942 she lived with her eight-year-old son in a series of dilapidated rooms before unsuccessfully applying to a court to have him fostered. Instead he was placed in a Catholic boys’ home from which he ran away after just 10 months.

Manson’s robbery of an off-licence marked the beginning of a series of crimes, including armed robbery, and subsequent incarcerations in a number of institutions.

Manson Family Murders Fast Facts

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/30/us/manson-family-murders-fast-facts/index.htmlReportedly, during his childhood, Manson’s mother sold him for a pitcher of beer to a woman who wanted to have children. His uncle had to find the woman so that he could get his nephew back.

He later took his stepfather William Manson’s last name.

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