FBI agents reacted with shock and alarm after President Donald Trump fired then-director James Comey, according to a newly released trove of internal bureau communications.
The White House claimed afterward that Comey had lost the confidence of the FBIâ€™s â€œrank-and-file members,â€ but internal communications published Monday by the Lawfare Blog shows thatâ€™s not exactly true.
â€œI just saw CNN reporting that Director Comey has been fired by President Trump,â€ wrote David Gelios, the special agent in charge of the Detroit field office, to his staff. â€œI have no notification from HQ of any such thing. If I receive any information from HQ, I will advise. Iâ€™d ask all to stand by for clarification of this reporting. I am only sending this because I want everyone to know I have received no HQ confirmation of the reporting. I hope this is an instance of fake news.â€
Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comeyâ€™s and a journalist specializing in law and national security, filed a request in June for FBI documents under the Freedom of Information Act â€” and he received the first 103 pages of those records over the weekend following a lawsuit against the bureau.
â€œ(The FOIA request is intended) to show conclusively that President Trump and his White House staff are lying about career federal law enforcement officers, their actions, and their attitudes,â€ Wittes said in the suit.
Those internal communications show many FBI employees learned of the May 9 firing from TV news, and they confirm previous Lawfare reporting that agents reacted with â€œshockâ€ and â€œprofound sadness.â€
â€œOn a personal note, I vehemently disagree with any negative assertions about the credibility of this institution or the people herein,â€ wrote Amy Hess, the special agent in charge in Louisville.
The assistant director of the International Operations Division described the mood two days afterward as â€œa whirlwind of shock at the suddenness of the departure of Director Comey and concern with what the future will hold.â€
Comeyâ€™s deputy Andrew McCabe held a conference call the evening of the firing in one of his first duties as acting director, and he gave FBI management a timeline of the ouster and tried to reassure bureau chiefs of the FBIâ€™s mission.
Multiple emails show that McCabe asked managers to emphasize the FBIâ€™s ongoing mission after the president fired Comey amid the Justice Departmentâ€™s investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia.
â€œThe FBI mission remains the same, he said, and neither has the bureauâ€™s responsibility to â€˜protect the American people and uphold the Constitution,’â€ Lawfare reported McCabe as saying.
â€œSeveral of the special agents in charge write out this phrase verbatim,â€ the bloggers pointed out.
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‘Thinly-Veiled Incitement to Violence and Overt Racism’: Trump’s Truth Social Post Sparks Outrage
Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” but on Friday night took his social media approach to his Truth Social website.
Trump accused Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of having a “death wish” after a government shutdown was averted.
“Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” he said of Elaine Chao, who served in his cabinet for four years as Secretary of Transportation.
Trump’s post generated outrage online.
“Nothing to see here,” conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted. “Just a former president of the United States seeking to incite violence against the minority leader of the United States Senate and launching a racist verbal attack on the leader’s wife.”
Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu wrote, “Donald Trump using blatant racist tactics in his desperate attacks on McConnell by trying to ridicule Asian American former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s name calling her ‘Coco Chow’ — [McConnell] and [GOP] should call him out and reject his racist hate — will they do it?”
“Hardly shocking that Trump would threaten Mitch McConnell by capitalizing the words ‘death wish’ — dog whistle invitation to Trump’s extremist supporters — same Trump who believed his own VP Pence deserved to be lynched by the angry Jan. 6 mob Trump incited to violence,” Wu added.
Janai Nelson, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote, “I double dare all major media outlets to call this what it is: thinly-veiled incitement to violence and overt racism.”
Podcaster Fred Wellman said, “Elaine Chao was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation for 4 years and he just called her the ridiculously racist nickname ‘Coco Chow.’ Yes…you are a racist if you still support this broken *sshole.”
Jonah Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Dispatch, wrote, “Look, I think the gross bigotry, stupidity, dishonesty, and demagoguery of this is obvious on so many levels and I’m embarrassed for the country. But, because no one else will, I feel I have to point out he also misspelled advice.”
Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets
Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.
An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.
“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”
Republicans held an offsite, mock Congressional hearing where they plotted to defund and shutdown the VA.
Healthcare for veterans is on the midterms ballot. pic.twitter.com/PAKFCQZk7Y
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) September 30, 2022
A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.
“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”
Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.
In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after military service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.
Republican leaders are now floating abolishing the VA and stealing veterans’ health care. And if you think that’s unlikely remember that 84% of republicans in Congress voted against veterans’ cancer care this year. https://t.co/BV1msdniP5
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@BillPascrell) September 30, 2022
In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.
After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.
Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Red states are lining up to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan
Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — are suing the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.
The Biden administration based its plan on a 2003 law. According to the Justice Department, the law, initially meant to help military members, says that Biden can reduce or erase student loan debts during times of national emergency.
The red states’ lawsuit, filed Thursday in Missouri, said that Biden’s plan was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The lawsuit adds that, since Biden recently declared the COVID-19 pandemic as over, he can’t use it as a justification for his wide-scale debt relief plan, ABC News reported.
“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said of her state’s lawsuit. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”
The states argued that Biden’s plan inflicted a “number of ongoing financial harms” to student loan providers and also “will ultimately disrupt revenue to state coffers.” They also argued that Biden’s plan violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a law regulating how federal agencies ensure that presidential policies are well-reasoned and explained, the aforementioned publication reported.
Despite these claims, the White House has said it will continue with its plan, confident it can survive a court challenge.
“Republican officials from these six states are standing with special interests, and fighting to stop relief for borrowers buried under mountains of debt,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said Thursday. “The president and his administration are lawfully giving working and middle class families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”
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