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Nederlog

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Crisis: Comey's Firing, "Shocking", Deep State Coup?, Trump's Impeachment


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. After James Comey’s Firing, Who Will Stop Trump’s Tinpot
     Dictatorship?

2. Glenn Greenwald on Trump's "Shocking" Firing of FBI Chief
     James Comey Amid Russian Probe

3.
Watergate Redux or ‘Deep State’ Coup?
4.
Post-Comey Firing, Trump Impeachment Is 'What the Country
     and the World Need'

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday
, May 11, 2017.

Summary:
This is a crisis log with four items and four links. They are mostly about Comey's dismissal (about which there is much more in the news): Item 1 is about an article on The Intercept about Comey's dismissal; item 2 is about an interview with Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now! on the same topic; item 3 explains what happened in terms of the deep state (and seems plausible to me); and item 4 is about the chances of Trump's impeachment after dismissing Comey (less plausible before November 2018).

And this is the usual about the updating problem that I am now plagued with for no less than 1 1/2 years, though now only at one of my two sites:
May 11: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site is off again and still sticks on May 4. They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most.

I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them like the plague.)

And what changed is that you have to refresh (and refresh and refresh and refresh) to get the latest, which is again NOT as it was before, from 1996 till 2015, and which for me this only serves to make it extremely difficult for naive users to get the latest from my site - that for them may seem to have stuck somewhere in 2016 or 2015.

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. After James Comey’s Firing, Who Will Stop Trump’s Tinpot Dictatorship?

The first article today is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

“You’re fired!” That’s what Donald Trump would bark from his boardroom chair at the end of each episode of “The Apprentice.” For years, millions of Americans would smile, laugh, and even cheer in front of their television sets as the property tycoon performed his signature move.

There is little to laugh about this week. The firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump will be remembered as a dark and depressing day in the downward spiral of American democracy. It’s difficult to disagree with the scathing assessment of CNN’s senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who described the sacking as a “grotesque” abuse of power. “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies,” he told host Wolf Blitzer in a clip that has since, deservedly, gone viral. “They fire the people who are in charge of the investigation.” Toobin continued: “This is something that is not within the American political tradition. … This is not normal, this is not politics as usual.”

There is indeed nothing “normal” about removing the head of the FBI from his post less than four months into a new presidency — and an FBI boss who has been credited with delivering that president his election victory, against the odds. You have to go all the way back to 1993 to find the last — and only other — time a president (William J. Clinton) decided to dismiss his FBI chief (William S. Sessions).
I say, for I am a bit amazed, though not much. Then again, I do not know whether Toobin is right, while I also do not think that Clinton's dismissal of an FBI-chief is that long ago.

Here is some more:
Nor is there anything “normal” about an American president sending his long-standing head of private security, and former bodyguard, to hand-deliver a letter of termination to his FBI chief. There are tinpot dictators in Africa who would have avoided doing that simply in order to avoid giving the wrong impression. Tinpot Trump, however, didn’t care.
I don't know - and which dictators? And here is again some more:

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was also sacked by Trump via hand-delivered letter. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, was sacked by Trump after he refused to resign. What do Comey, Yates, and Bharara have in common? “They all were investigating Trump when they got fired, and there’s a Russia thread in each of their cases,” observes Shannon Vavra of Axios.

“You’re fired!” This is how Tinpot Trump deals with those who seek to hold him to account. We can’t say we weren’t warned. He has, after all, never hidden his authoritarian inclinations, his brazen disregard for political, legal, and social norms.

Well, yes - but I, for one, am not at all convinced that there is much to "the Russia thread", and there has been no proof of any direct evidence for 6 months now!.

This doesn't mean the allegations cannot be correct, but (i) I certainly want to see some decent evidence, and did not so far, while (ii) so far, it seems to me, the present story is much like Hillary Clinton's and the present Democratic leadership (that I think should both go, and the sooner the better).

Then there is this, which also sounds at least a little too strong to me:

Is it any wonder that experts on authoritarianism and fascism have been sounding the alarm bell for many months now?

I have been following a number of supposed experts on authoritarianism and fascism since January 2016, at least, and while there are some, indeed including those I take seriously myself, I should add that I have not see many "experts on authoritarianism and fascism", though I agree Timothy Snyder is one, and I take him seriously as well.

Indeed here are Nederlog links in which he is named and quoted: e.g. "Post-truth is Pre-Fascism", and here, here, here and here (and also at other places):

Here is again more:

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The Democrats? (...) But they are the minority party in both chambers. They don’t have the votes to demand anything. Nor do they have much credibility in the eyes of the public — a recent poll revealed the Democrats to be less popular than the Republicans, Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump himself.

I agree with this, although the Democrats very probably do not. And there is this:

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The courts? Here and there, maybe, but over one and possibly even two terms? And as the president’s patronage powers kick in? I doubt it.

I agree I doubt this as well. Here is the end of this article:

American checks and balances are out of whack. The firing of the FBI director is only the beginning. There will be more sackings; more political corruption; more abuses of power. And, again, we can’t say we weren’t warned. Tinpot Trump, cautioned John Dean back in January, “is going to test our democracy as it has never been tested.” Whether American democracy is up to that test is another matter.

Quite possibly so, but I think this article is fairly thick on supporting the Democrats and fairly thin on providing real evidence (which I agree may be more difficult to get now).

2.
Glenn Greenwald on Trump's "Shocking" Firing of FBI Chief James Comey Amid Russian Probe

The second article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
President Trump has set off a political firestorm after firing FBI Director James Comey, just weeks after Comey confirmed the FBI was investigating whether Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election. Trump said he made the decision based on the recommendation of newly appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who both faulted Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Rosenstein faulted Comey’s remarks last July, when he announced the FBI would not seek charges against Clinton. The New York Times reports Sessions had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire Comey. For more, we speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept.
This is background information. Here is Nermeen Shaikh:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: This morning, Donald Trump tweeted, "Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!" In recent months, Comey had come under widespread criticism from many Democrats for notifying lawmakers just before the election that the FBI was once again investigating whether Clinton had sent classified information from her private email server while she was secretary of state. Just last week, Clinton said Comey’s actions factored into her loss.
Yes indeed: I think that is all quite correct and relevant.  Here is Amy Goodman followed by Glenn Greenwald:
AMY GOODMAN: (...) Hi, Glenn. Thanks so much for being with us. It’s great to have you live in our studio here in New York. Your response to President Trump firing James Comey?
GLENN GREENWALD: So, in the hundred-plus short days of the Trump administration, I think there have been many things Donald Trump has done that have been menacing and even heinous, but I actually don’t think there are many things that he has done that you could say were shocking, given the things he promised to do during the campaign, as well as who he revealed himself to be both during the campaign and in the decades preceding that. This, however, is the only word you can think of for it, is "shocking." Aside from the fact how rare it is for presidents to fire FBI directors—it’s something that’s typically tolerated only under the most extreme circumstances, when there are serious ethical issues that have arisen about the director’s behavior (...)
I think what’s even more amazing is the rationale that they concocted in order to justify this, because, of course, they needed to come up with a reason beyond "We’re firing Comey because we’re concerned about the investigation aimed at Trump."
I don't know. I suppose Glenn Greenwald is correct in saying that these actions from Trump are "shocking", but I must admit that - while he probably is right - it may be less shocking to me, simply because I have heard many quite insane statements and evident lies by Trump that I also consider "shocking" in an American president, while
I cannot exclude much that this president might do, irrespective also of any legal foundations, indeed in part because he, the head of the executive powers of the USA, criticized judges, from the legislative powers in the USA, which I also thought was a shocking first.

And here is some more from the file that follows the article the above bits were quoted from:
GLENN GREENWALD: (...) Let me just add, you know, I’ve been one of the people who have been—who have been urging skepticism on the question of Russia and Trump and collusion and even the broader Russia questions—and I still do—but my position has always been, from the very beginning, given how significant these questions are, it is in everybody’s interest—if you’re somebody who believes Trump is a Kremlin puppet to believing that this is just a Democratic conspiracy to avoid self-critique, to everything in between, it is in everybody’s interest to have an investigation that, at the end, no matter what the outcome, everyone says, "I may not agree with all the conclusions, but this was a fair investigation." And what just happened in the last 24 hours makes that utterly impossible, which is why I think the reaction should be, besides an investigation into the firing of Comey, let us construct an actual independent, empowered body that can truly and finally get to the bottom of these questions.
I agree with that, mostly for legalistic reasons, but add that I heard about "the Russia connection" on November 8, 2016, while I have not seen one bit of good evidence for that connection since then (although I agree Trump has interests in Russia and has some ties with Putin, but that is rather different from successful Russian hacking to make Trump president).

3. Watergate Redux or ‘Deep State’ Coup?

The third article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows (and seems the best reaction so far):
President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday reflected a growing concern inside the White House that the long-rumored scheme by “deep state” operatives to overturn the results of the 2016 election may have been more than just rumors.

The fear grew that Comey and other senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community had concluded last year that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump was a suitable future president, albeit for different reasons. I’m told that Clinton was seen as dangerously hawkish and Trump as dangerously unqualified, opinions privately shared by then-President Barack Obama.

So, according to this account, plans were made last summer to damage both Clinton and Trump, with the hope of putting a more stable and less risky person in the Oval Office – with key roles in this scheme played by Comey, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

When I first heard about this supposed cabal in the middle of last year, I dismissed it as something more fitting a Jason Bourne movie than the real world. But – to my amazement – the U.S. intelligence community then began intervening in the presidential campaign in unprecedented ways.

Yes, that is all true, or so it seems. For more on the interventions, click the last of the above dotted links.

And there is now this:

And, we now know that Comey was leading a parallel investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, instigated at least in part by a dossier prepared by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, paid for by Clinton supporters and containing allegations about secret meetings between Trump aides and influential Russians.

As is also explained in parts that I skipped, Steele's dossier is widely disregarded (also by me) because that seems to have been wholly based on allegations without any evidence, while I also dislike the Democrats' quite obvious attempts to shift the blame for Hillary's loss from Hillary to the Russians - which again I dislike not because they are impossible, but because I have not seen any decent evidence (for over a half year now).

And this article ends as follows (after considerably more):

Yet, despite what Page and other Trump advisers caught up in the Russia-gate probe may hope, the prospects that Comey’s firing will end their ordeal are dim. The near certainty is that whatever Obama and his intelligence chiefs set in motion last year is just beginning.

That is, if one also believes, as Parry and I both seem to do, in the existence of something like the deep state (about which there is considerably more in the indexes
for 2016 and 2017).

And this is a recommended article.

4. Post-Comey Firing, Trump Impeachment Is 'What the Country and the World Need'

The fourth and last article today is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In the wake of his "Nixonian" firing of FBI director James Comey, calls for Congress to begin an impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump have grown.

The Tuesday announcement immediately drew parallels to President Richard Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre, and fueled calls for a special prosecutor or independent commission to investigate alleged Russian interference in the election.

But according to John Bonifaz, co-founder and president of Free Speech For People, there must also be a probe into possible impeachable offenses by the president.

He said the firing Comey

raises serious questions as to whether [Trump] is engaged in obstruction of justice. The FBI director recently testified before Congress, revealing that the FBI is in the midst of investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian Government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Members of the House of Representatives must now carry out their constitutional duty and initiate an investigation into whether the President has committed impeachable offenses, including obstruction of justice. Our democracy is at stake.

But as Peter Dreier argues at Salon, that "may have to wait until after November 2018."

That's because "[t]his Republican Congress is not going to impeach Donald Trump," New York Daily News' Shaun King writes. "They are all in so deep with him that impeaching him would be an indictment on themselves."

I agree with this, that is, more specifically: I agree with Bonifaz that an investigation whether Trump "has committed impeachable offenses" is desirable, but I also agree with Peter Dreier that, given the Republican Congress, this very probably has to wait for more than 1 1/2 year.

Here is more, first on Dreier:

As Dreier sees it, "the unfolding scandal over his Russian ties could eventually lead Trump to follow in Nixon's footsteps" and force him to leave office. "If the Democrats win a majority of seats in the House in November of next year (a real possibility), they will have the power to conduct their own investigation of the Trump-Russia connection, obtain Trump's tax returns to uncover his web of business ties, and begin impeachment proceedings."

But calling for impeachment now "is the appropriate response," writes Ted Glick. "We need to punch back."

Again I agree with both persons named and quoted. And this is on Bonifaz:

Bonifaz's organization, along with RootsAction, is leading a national campaign for an impeachment investigation at www.impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org.

Launched on Inauguration Day, the petition says "The President is not above the law," and calls on the House Committee on the Judiciary to investigate possible violations of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses "and whether the President has—in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed—prevented, obstructed, or impeded the administration of justice."

I again agree with this, were it only because I think that a man like Donald Trump is and was completely unfit to be president of the USA.

And this is a recommended article.


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