The Dept. of Justice Thursday night released to congressional leaders redacted copies of the memos FBI Director Jim Comey wrote detailing his interactions with President Trump before being fired. It was an unprecedented move made only to appease Republicans seeking to discredit Comey.
It also revealed previously undisclosed remarks by Trump, exposing more to the American people how his mind works.
Trump has been besieged by leaks from within his own White House from the start, and he was furious about them.
In one portion of a memo from February 14, 2017, President Trump suggested to his then FBI Director that prison rape would be an effective method of convincing reporters to reveal their sources – the people who are leaking to them.
“The president then wrapped up our conversation by returning to the issue of finding leakers,” Comey wrote, as HuffPost reports. “I said something about the value of putting a head on a pike as a message. He replied by saying it may involve putting reporters in jail.”
″‘They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk,’” Comey recounted the president saying. “I laughed as I walked to the door Reince Priebus had opened.”
Some on social media expressed disgust:
The fact that the president is recommending prison rape is horrifying.
The fact that it's felt to be a normal part of prison is horrifying.
The fact that it occurs at all is horrifying. https://t.co/J4xxEGQ4bu
— Cheryl Rofer (@CherylRofer) April 20, 2018
President makes a prison rape joke to express how incarcerating reporters would be effective. Director of the FBI, by his own account, laughs. pic.twitter.com/k1AFxURohk
— T'Challah 🍝 (@AdamSerwer) April 20, 2018
The current President of the United States describing the value of prison rape for journalists. https://t.co/nEED3IDDRq
— Steven Beschloss (@StevenBeschloss) April 20, 2018
In which Trump and Comey share a laugh about prison rape: pic.twitter.com/Mz8rxUOPMB
— Dafna Linzer (@DafnaLinzer) April 20, 2018
"They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk," Trump said according to Comey's recollection.
Trump is talking about prison rape. He's talking about rape being used to force imprisoned journalists to "talk".
I am stunned.
— Peter "Little Doc" Delacroix (@DocPeteyJ) April 20, 2018
Ha ha, prison rape, it's both funny and useful for intimidating journalists, because we live in a society so cruel and so blase about sexual violence that of course a prison environment 100% controlled by the government should include a high likelihood of rape. https://t.co/4jSVDCULUp
— Max Kennerly (@MaxKennerly) April 20, 2018
Threatening journalists with prison rape. That’s a whole other level of wrong in so many different ways. That man should not be president or at any level of power in any sphere whatsoever.
— AiasIRL (@AiasIRL) April 20, 2018
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‘He Was Going to Sacrifice You’: Pence Mocked for Rushing to Support Trump After FBI Mar-a-Lago Raid
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who was by Donald Trump‘s side constantly promoting and defending him when he was President, and who was subjected to Trump’s support of rioters and insurrectionists calling to “hang Mike Pence,” is being highly criticized and mocked for again rushing to defend Trump in the wake of the FBI’s raid at Mar-a-Lago.
Experts have made clear they believe FBI’s execution of a lawful federal search warrant is most likely in connection with a national security and counterintelligence operation, not a casual stroll into the private estate of a former U.S. president.
But not according to Pence, who is strongly believed to be organizing a 2024 presidential run.
“I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump. No former President of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history,” he writes.
“After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed,” he claims, which is at best a twisting of facts. No FBI agent was found to have taken official action based on personal political beliefs.
“Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately,” Pence demanded.
Pence could have made the exact same demand of Donald Trump, who has a copy of the lawfully executed search warrant and inventory of the likely hundreds or thousands of documents that are the rightful property of the U.S. government, and recovered by the FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Meanwhile, Pence was singing a very different tune int he weeks before he was elected Vice President.
“We call on the FBI to immediately release all emails pertinent to their investigation,” he tweeted about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on October 28, 2016. “Americans have the right to know before Election Day.”
Trump “and I commend the FBI for reopening an investigation into Clinton’s personal email server because no one is above the law,” Pence added just hours later.
Responses to Pence’s remarks on Tuesday were strong.
“Mike he was going to sacrifice you,” tweeted Daily Kos staff writer Gabe Ortíz.
“No President has ever attempted to have an armed mob assassinate his Vice President either,” wrote journalist Marcy Wheeler.
Trump sent a “violent mob to murder you so he could end [the] republic,” tweeted economist David Rothschild. “Trump took boxes of classified documents from White House & is known to destroy documents.”
“Trump won in 2016 because FBI intervened on his behalf over ‘concern’ about Clinton’s document retention & security,” he continued. “Not investigating & prosecuting former president who flaunts breaking law, including leading coup against US, undermines rule-of-law for all of US.”
“You don’t know what the FBI’s warrant said or what evidence was presented to the judge who authorized it,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “Your suggestion that Trump should be beyond accountability to the law, like your silence when Trump called for imprisonment of his opponents as president, harms our country.”
Talking Points memo editor and founder Josh Marshall writes, “this is a good reminder of who Mike Pence is. None of this happened. The FBI never plotted against Trump. To the extent it has org bias it’s toward the right. Everyone knows this. Pence is just repeating anti-‘deep state’ propaganda invented to give Trump cover for his crimes.”
“The pervasive rightwing lie and conspiracy theory that the FBI is controlled by Biden for political purposes is based on the assumption that everyone in the Biden admin, the FBI, the department of justice, the media and secret service is corrupt and abusing power—and trump is not,” wrote Condé Nast legal affairs editor Luke Zaleski.
Vox’s legal expert, Ian Millhiser asks, “Is there anyone on earth more pathetic than Mike Pence? Donald Trump egged on a lynch mob that wanted Pence hanged, and Pence is still Trump’s toady.”
‘This Is a National Security Issue’: Former FBI Agents Note Key Details About ‘Raid’ on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
Two former FBI agents are weighing in on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s execution of a search warrant Monday at the Florida residence of Donald Trump, the former President, which he called a “raid.”
“This is a nat sec/CI issue,” tweeted Asha Rangappa Tuesday morning, meaning national security and counterintelligence. Rangappa is an attorney, former FBI special agent, senior lecturer at Yale, and CNN commentator.
She was pointing to a tweet by another former FBI special agent, James Harris.
Harris has an extensive bio, highlights of which include his role at FBI HQ Cyber Division as a Program Manager and then Unit Chief (Acting), FBI Senior Liaison Officer to DHS Cybersecurity and Communications, and FBI Assistant Section Chief of the Counterterrorism Internet Operations Section. Earlier in his FBI career he says he “built up the largest Federal Cybercrime Task Force in the US.”
Harris points to this section of a CNN article published Tuesday morning, written by seven CNN reporters:
“In early June, a handful of investigators made a rare visit to the property seeking more information about potentially classified material from Trump’s time in the White House that had been taken to Florida. The four investigators, including Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department, sat down with two of Trump’s attorneys, Bobb and Evan Corcoran, according to a source present for the meeting.”
Harris on Twitter highlights this sentence: “The four investigators, including Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department…”
He tweets: “All you ‘outraged’ GOPers better cool your jets. You might be walking your rhetoric back really fast when you figure out what this seems to be. The devil is in the details.”
In January the National Archives was forced to transport from Mar-a-Lago 15 cartons of documents and other items that, according to the Presidential Records Act and the National Archives, should have been turned over to the Archives.
The FBI’s execution of the search warrant and reports that they left with a large quantity of documents suggests Trump might not have turned over everything taken from the White House.
Rangappa earlier Tuesday tweeted: “Ask yourself: What kind of info makes its way to the WH, and specifically to the president? —> HIGH LEVEL SECRETS. PDB stuff. Defense info. These aren’t low-level diplomatic cables or overclassified State Dept. correspondence. Just saying.”
‘I’d Be Advising My Client to Tell Their Family I’m Looking at Jail Time’: Mueller Prosecutor on the FBI’s Trump Raid
Former Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, explained on MSNBC that if he was advising a client facing what former President Donald Trump is, there would be a strong warning.
“If I were Donald Trump’s lawyer right now, thank God I’m not, I would be advising my client to be telling [their] family, ‘I am looking at jail time, and we should make plans accordingly.'”
After House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) threatened Attorney General Merrick Garland, Weissmann said that he should just keep his head down and keep doing his job.
“That is such a palpably false statement, the comment from Mr. McCarthy that he has seen enough,” said Weissmann. “One of the things that none of us has seen is the warrant, an application to the court. It’s very important to remember this was not a break-in, this was not a raid, this was not the attorney general of the United States deciding willy-nilly on his own that he was going to do the search. A court had to approve the search here based on, as you point out Lawrence, evidence. The evidence had to show that there was probable cause of a crime. That is the way our judicial system works, and that is what happened here.”
While McCarthy may want to hold a public hearing of Garland and demand documents, what the Republicans might ultimately end up doing is drawing additional attention to what Trump stole or attempted to destroy.
“I think the thing that I found the most remarkable and I think it’s really worth people really taking a step back, is this does mean the attorney general of the United States did not trust the former president to simply produce the documents voluntarily pursuant to a subpoena,” said Weissmann. “And it was necessary to go via search warrant. Normally, you think that if you order a subpoena to any reputable person they will produce documents. When you issue and obtain a search warrant, it is because you do not trust that the person will actually produce the documents. That means if they had to have evidence of that that led Merrick Garland to take this step. It was bold but certainly approved by the courts.”
He went on to joke that the irony is that, all of a sudden, Kevin McCarthy cares about document preservation.
“The Trump administration pioneered all these different ways of doing it from flushing it down the toilet, to burning it in the White House fireplace,” recalled Weissmann. “Points for creativity, but, all in all, I don’t think I expect a statement from the Justice Department about [McCarthy’s threats].”
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