Mon, May

BOTUS and My Impeachment Popcorn


THE COHEN COLUMN--Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to run the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, is widely respected by both parties after more than 20 years at the forefront of U.S. law enforcement.

 Donald Trump's decision to fire James Comey, and he has now admitted it was his decision alone, was hands down the biggest mistake of his life, political or otherwise. Today we will talk about what happens to people who try to lean on James Comey. 

We have already predicted that Trump is going down. How quickly that will happen, and all our lives depend on the speed of that, is a critical function of how many of you speak out and demonstrate that you are speaking out. 

There was a fascinating and well researched and sourced article in the New York Times this week, talking about the differential handling of publicity about the Clinton email investigation, as compared to the investigation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Simply put the media concentrated on constantly reporting and discussing that one topic. While with Trump who had so many different issues escaped intense scrutiny simply confounding  the media with so many choices. None stood out for Trump like the one issue of emails for Clinton.  So much for calling media liberal.  

We had previously expressed the unassailable view that no FBI Director should make public statements about a pending investigation in the absence of an indictment, and that in particular Comey's last minute October, it's on again, it's off again, surprise was out of bounds.

So why did he do it?

Comey told congress, during his recent "poor, poor performance" according to Trump, that he felt his hand had been forced by the private chat between attorney general Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton on the tarmac. 

The New York Times article fills in more details and additional backdrop. 

The instant Bill Clinton stepped onto Lynch's plane her staffers literally freaked out, phone calls flew, the word went out to get him off that plane immediately, but it was 20 minutes before that could be effected. 

It evinced incredibly poor judgment on the part of the first bonehead, BOTUS?, to which Lynch was an equal and cooperating party. It was because of that, that Lynch was forced to recuse herself from a proprietorial decision, and promise to defer to the judgment of the FBI, putting Comey in a spotlight he was inherently uncomfortable with, and feeling the pressure to make more of a public statement than would be otherwise proper. 

But the backdrop is that the pressure ran deeper than that. Lynch had herself previously leaned on Comey to minimize the significance of the Hillary investigation. She tried to get him to call it a "matter," not an investigation.  

Comey had also come into possession of an intercepted hacked email suggesting that Lynch was prepared to intervene on Hillary's behalf, and that too weighed on his close decision to make the first public statement, in which he originally announced there would be no indictment. 

Then, having stepped out in public once already, when the Weiner laptop surfaced, Comey felt obligated again to update what never should have been the public record in the first place. 

The moral of the story is, if you lean on James Comey, he leans back. 

Fast forward to Trump's attempts to lean on Comey on behalf of Michael Flynn. Trumps disgraced first choice for National Security Advisor, who was found to be lying about his activities has himself, been subpoenaed by the US Senate, 

Right wingers argue that if that were real obstruction of justice, then why did Comey not act precipitously in the moment if that's what he believed Trump was doing? 

And the answer is that it was a close call. Trump deliberately couched his demand in soft language, notwithstanding his guilty appearance of telling Sessions and Pence to leave the room before he did. But it's not as if he directly ordered Comey to drop it. 

So Comey just extensively memorialized all this in freshly written memos, straight by the book. But not an open and shut case quite yet. 

And Comey's response to being leaned on even a little, he ramped UP the investigation. 

Trump does not understand the concept of public service. We stated early on that all he was interested in was his own personal aggrandizement, to be able to ride on the big plane.

But there are lots of people in our ongoing government bureaucracy and administrative structure who DO take public service seriously, who consider themselves civil servants, in the FBI especially, who work for much less than they could earn on the outside, because they believe in this thing called America. And one of the biggest believers is James Comey. 

What Trump accomplished in firing Comey was two things. 

First, by admitting, repeatedly out of his own mouth, that he had shutting down the Russian investigation in mind when he fired Comey, he supplied confirming PROOF that his intent was obstruction of justice. Trump himself made the case that Comey could not have proven before. 

Second, not just in firing Comey, but in doing it the way he did, at the same time smearing 

Comey's integrity and character, and even trying to intimidate him, Trump has now aroused the entire FBI and justice department against him in the way that only Comey himself was aroused by the Attorney General Loretta Lynch indiscretions. 

As an aside, one thing bothered me about the hoopla of that unplanned BOTUS - Lynch meeting. It's this. Whether or not the investigation came up, Bill Clinton was not in government. He was neither an employee nor an elected. He was a private person. Wouldn’t a mother have the right to ask the local prosecutor to go easy on her son? Just a thought. 

So getting back to Trump handling of Comey There will be the mother of all backlashes.

Even the Republicans know that the earth has moved under their feet, that Trump is no longer defensible, a conclusion we reached when Paul Ryan was still proudly calling the firing a "presidential" decision.  

Trump has given us, with the closing of Ringling Brothers, the New “Greatest Show on Earth.” 

The only thing missing is someone handing out boxes of popcorn for the big impeachment show. 

Hmmm . . . Impeach Trump popcorn boxes. 

But don't worry, I won’t be getting into the popcorn distribution business. 

Maybe someone should though.


(Michael N. Cohen is a former board member of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, founding member of the LADWP Neighborhood Council Oversight Committee, founding member of LA Clean Sweep and occasional contributor to CityWatch.)


Get The News In Your Email Inbox Mondays & Thursdays