Obstruction of Justice?
PresidentÂ Donald Trump asked FBI Director Jim Comey in February to drop the Bureau’s investigation into Mike Flynn, Trump’s now-fired National Security Adviser.Â
â€œI hope you can let this go,â€ Trump told the FBI Director, according to a memo written by Comey immediately after the Oval office conversation, The New York Times reports. That conversation took place the day after Flynn resigned. If accurate, it is the strongest example to date PresidentÂ Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense.
“The existence of Mr. Trumpâ€™s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trumpâ€™s associates and Russia,” the Times reports. “The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the presidentâ€™s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation.”
The Times notes: “An F.B.I. agentâ€™s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.”
NBC News’ Peter Alexander says the memo reads: “I hope you can see your way to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
NBC News’ Ali Vitali reports the Trump White House denies the report:
Senior WH official tells NBC POTUS “has never asked Mr. Comey…to end any investigation, incl any investigation involving Gen Flynn.” pic.twitter.com/BnF3B1xgbJ
â€” Ali Vitali (@alivitali) May 16, 2017
Some responses via Twitter:
“Trump Asked Comey to End Flynn Inquiry” pic.twitter.com/zbyJRrS6XT
â€” Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 16, 2017
If this doesn’t count as obstruction, hard to see what would.
â€” Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) May 16, 2017
Let’s not parse words: this is an impeachable offense. https://t.co/sxdW4lb5vg
â€” Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) May 16, 2017
A president demanding their FBI Director shut down an investigation into senior level administration officials is obstruction of justice.
â€” Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) May 16, 2017
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE:
Trump asked Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Michael Flynn in Feb https://t.co/PqDonNijES
â€” igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) May 16, 2017
UPDATE I: 5:46 PM EDTÂ â€“
Jeffrey Toobin calls it “obstruction of justice” if Comey is telling the truth:
Jeffrey Toobinâ€™s reaction to report Trump asked Comey to end Flynn probe: â€œThree words: obstruction of justice.â€ https://t.co/I75XzEdgqF
â€” The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) May 16, 2017
UPDATE II: 5:52 PM EDTÂ â€“
The Times adds these points:
â€œI hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,â€ Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. â€œHe is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.â€
Mr. Comey created similar memos â€” including some that are classified â€” about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.
Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comeyâ€™s associates.
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Liz Cheney Secretly Organized Key Move to Block Trump From Using Military to Overturn Election: Report
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was the organizer of an open letter by all living former Defense Secretaries against the military intervening in election disputes.
The revelation was made to Susan Glasser of The New Yorker by Eric Edelman, a friend of Cheney’s who served as an advisor to her father.
“Cheney’s rupture with the House Republican Conference has become all but final in recent days, but it has been months in the making. Edelman revealed that Cheney herself secretly orchestrated an unprecedented op-ed in the Washington Post by all ten living former Defense Secretaries, including her father, warning against Trump’s efforts to politicize the military,” Glasser reported.
“The congresswoman not only recruited her father but personally asked others, including Trump’s first Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, to participate. ‘She was the one who generated it, because she was so worried about what Trump might do,’ Edelman said. ‘It speaks to the degree that she was concerned about the threat to our democracy that Trump represented.’ The Post op-ed appeared on January 3rd, just three days before the insurrection at the Capitol,” she reported.
It wasn’t the only action she took.
“Little noticed at the time was another Cheney effort to combat Trump’s post-election lies, a twenty-one-page memo written by Cheney and her husband, Phil Perry, an attorney, and circulated on January 3rd to the entire House Republican Conference. In it, Cheney debunked Trump’s false claims about election fraud and warned her colleagues that voting to overturn the election results, as Trump was insisting, would ‘set an exceptionally dangerous precedent.’ But, of course, they did not listen. Even after the storming of the Capitol, a hundred and forty-seven Republican lawmakers voted against accepting the election results,” Glaser wrote.
The joint letter was signed by Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, William Perry and Donald Rumsfeld.
“American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy. With one singular and tragic exception that cost the lives of more Americans than all of our other wars combined, the United States has had an unbroken record of such transitions since 1789, including in times of partisan strife, war, epidemics and economic depression. This year should be no exception,” the former defense secretaries wrote.
“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived,” they explained. “As senior Defense Department leaders have noted, ‘there’s no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election.’ Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”
‘DEFCON 1 Moment’: Former Obama Advisor Slams Republicans Who ‘Hate Democracy’ and Warns It’s ‘Hanging by a Thread’
“This is an existential threat”
David Plouffe, former President Barack Obama’s campaign manager and White House senior advisor, slammed Republican lawmakers who “hate democracy,” which he warned is “hanging by a thread.” He also urged the Dept. of Justice to be “all over” the recount on Arizona, but warned the white supremacists, QAnon and MAGA cultists have already decided that Trump won the state, despite the actual facts that Joe Biden won, a fact that Republicans in positions of power agree with.
“This is a DEF CON 1 moment for democracy,” Plouffe told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace. “We’re not threatened by other nations or enemies, it’s a threat from within. Democracy is hanging by the thinnest thread in our country’s history. And what’s happening in Phoenix, Arizona, should be happening across the board of Roswell, New Mexico,” he added, apparently mocking Area 51 conspiracy theorists.
“It’s just crazy town. ”
“By the way there’s no question that the end of this ridiculous theatricality of the collection of white nationalists and QAnon supporters and Trump cult members are going to say, ‘you know, Trump should have won Arizona.’ We already know the outcome. But this is deadly serious. The Department of Justice needs to be all over this not just in Arizona, but all these efforts around the country.”
Plouffe called it “puzzling” because “you’ve got all these Republican elected officials who are in office because they chose to participate in the theater of democracy, and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen people in America hate democracy this much, because basically what they want to do is enshrine themselves in power and they’re doing it because they’re fearful of this ridiculous, shameful, historically incompetent cult leader down in Mar-a-Lago, who they all traipse down there and pledge allegiance to,” he said of Donald Trump.
“And none of them got into politics because they thought they were going to be weak-kneed and bending the ring to a cult leader but that’s where they’ve found themselves. Issues are secondary, their own careers in many respects are secondary.”
“Everybody who’s concerned about this country, not about who wins the next election or the one after that, but the entire enterprise is at risk here. This is an existential threat. And so it’s great to see DOJ, getting involved, to see a lot of groups like Mark Elias’ are starting to file lawsuits, but what ultimately needs to happen here and this won’t solve all of it is Congress must act.”
“They must pass voting rights legislation, and if they don’t because a few Democratic senators decide that protecting the filibuster, which of course has its roots in slavery and racism, you’re going to basically protect that, so that our democracy and our country can be handed over in permanence, to a party that increasingly is comfortable with white nationalism,” Plouffe said, it would be “tragic.”
“This is a DEFCON 1 moment for democracy. We’re not threatened by other nations or enemies, it’s a threat from within. Democracy is hanging by the thinnest thread in our country’s history… The Department of Justice needs to be all over this” – @davidplouffe w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/yZWrBzvvcP
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) May 6, 2021
Shadowy Right Wing Group One Step Closer to Overturning Arizona City’s New LGBTQ Civil Rights Protections
A group hiding behind a two-page website that lists no actual persons or physical address has submitted enough signatures to get a repeal of Mesa, Arizona’s new LGBTQ civil rights protections law onto the ballot for the November 2022 election.
According to news reports no one seems to know who founded United for Mesa, a Political Action Committee created days after the Mesa City Council passed the non-discrimination ordinance. The website lists an email address, phone number, and P.O. Box.
“Give the People a Voice,” the website urges, meaning they believe citizens should vote on civil rights, something studies show overwhelmingly ends with the majority voting to deprive the minority of equal rights. It also claims the “Mesa City Council just passed an ordinance WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF MESA RESIDENTS,” which is false. In a representative democracy, citizens elect leaders to make these very decisions for them.
Calling the group “below-the-radar, with no official leaders or posted public meetings,” the East Valley Tribune reported last month that “Unofficial leaders like Barbara R. Parker rallied like-minded troops via Facebook and other outlets.”
“Thank you to every petition signer and gatherer who helped save Mesa!” Parker posted Thursday night.
“Thank the Lord! I have never seen so many people working so hard to get signatures,” wrote Paula Smith in a comment to Parker’s post. “It’s been amazing! I’m so thankful everyone’s hard work paid off!”
“Thank you everyone for going the extra distance, so we may all have a voice in such an important decision,” added Charmon Puhlmann, a bus driver for Mesa Public Schools.
Political consultant George Khalaf’s firm, The Arizona Republic reports, “is leading the referendum effort against the ordinance,” but it does not mention what, if any, relationship he has with United for Mesa.
Last year the Arizona Capitol Times reported Khalaf was a political consultant to Republican state Representative Nancy Barto, in an article discussing an anti-transgender bill.
An email to United for Mesa did not receive a response by press time.
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