Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trump Met Russian Officials for Expert Advice on Replacing Comey as FBI Director


SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- President Trump’s abrupt decision to fire FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday evening, as the probe into Russia’s interference with the election deepens, has raised the hackles of virtually every person outside the president’s circle of trust. Comey’s dramatic ouster as the nation’s chief law enforcement authority, who was deep in the middle of a sensitive investigation that could extend to Trump, casts further doubts on the president’s denials that no ties exist between his White House and the Kremlin. With Department of Justice and intelligence officials convinced that Russia meddled in U.S. affairs, Mr. Trump’s ill-timed, closed-door meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday only intensified the scrutiny. But following the private conversation in the Oval Office, White House press representatives allayed public fears and explained that Trump was consulting with Moscow to help select the next director of the FBI -- someone intimately familiar with Russia to better lead the investigation.

Trump’s Tuesday Night Massacre

“In a letter to Comey,” the Associated Press wrote, “Trump said the firing was necessary to restore ‘public trust and confidence’ in the FBI. Comey has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his public comments on an investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices, including a pair of letters he sent to Congress on the matter in the closing days of last year’s campaign.”

Democrats quickly condemned the president’s action, comparing it to Richard Nixon’s 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he terminated the independent special prosecutor tasked with overseeing the Watergate investigation. That decision prompted the Justice Department’s top two officials to resign. Trump’s possible collusion with Russia, however, would expose a significantly larger scandal and dangerous constitutional crisis.

The president further roiled the troubled waters by hosting a conference with Russia’s foreign minister the day after he sacked Comey. Even worse, the White House blocked U.S. media from attending, but allowed Russian media to be present, distribute photographs and post on social networks.

As CBS reported: “In what was supposed to be a closed-door Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, pictures have emerged of meetings between President Trump, Mr Lavrov and Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak via Russian media and Russian government social media accounts.”

Lavrov, sarcastically mocking Comey’s dismissal, told NBC that “he and Trump ‘discussed specific issues and we didn’t raise those absurd issues’ about election tampering.”

According to the White House, those specific issues dealt with helping Trump find a suitable replacement for Comey, who could finish the investigation impartially and with bipartisan support.

Russian Input in FBI Director Selection: The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders faced her own trial by fire late Tuesday when confronting the press. As covered by The Hill, Sanders told the nation it was “time to move on” from questioning Trump’s allegiance to the Kremlin.

“I think the bigger point on that is, my gosh, Tucker, when are they going to let that go? It’s been going on for nearly a year,” she said on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. “Frankly, it’s kind of getting absurd. There’s nothing there. We’ve heard that time and time again. We’ve heard that in the testimonies earlier this week. We’ve heard it for the last 11 months. There is no ‘there’ there.”

“It’s time to move on, and, frankly, it’s time to focus on the things the American people care about,” she added.

Sanders’ impassioned plea to ignore the president’s partnership with former Soviet criminals was followed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolling back his pledge to recuse himself from the probe. Sessions will instead work with Trump and Russia to determine a suitable replacement for Comey.

Despite a massive outcry over these developments, Sessions and Sanders have made valuable but misconstrued points. The Russians, of their own volition, likely intervened in the American democratic process for reasons we have yet to understand. President Vladimir Putin intimated that this level of meddling could weaken U.S. opposition and strengthen Russia’s power hold over its territorial interests. But the American people must stop obsessing over Russia’s foreign policy; they have plenty of problems at home to tackle. Diminishing the influence of Russia, the White House explained, can only be achieved by those closest to it -- every member of Trump’s cabinet, all of whom have dealings with Moscow, and Russians themselves.

“Who understands the deviant, illegal undertakings of former Soviet spies and organized crime families than those same individuals?” Trump asked.

As Evening Transcript columnist F. Chester Greene cautioned in March, demanding that Sessions remove himself from the investigation could be devastating to its outcome. Sessions, Greene reasoned, was the most qualified Justice official to evaluate Russia and former Sen. Jeff Sessions’ collusion:

Here’s another truth, verified by Justice Department officials: Senator Sessions met with Ambassador Kislyak in September, but not as a Trump campaign surrogate. Sessions was still a member of the extremely influential Armed Services Committee. In that capacity, he was required to engage in over two dozen discussions with foreign authorities -- some allies, some rivals -- Russia included.

Could the senator’s dialog with former Soviet criminals in places like China and Russia have been illicit? Sure. Should the senator be investigated and, if determined guilty, face punishment? Absolutely. But we’re talking about Senator Jeff Sessions, not Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Two different positions. Two distinct officials. Two different people, in context. And with Attorney General Sessions’ deep, intimate knowledge of the inner workings of Sen. Sessions’ twisted psyche, who better to lead the charge for the truth? If the nation’s top legal enforcer steps down through recusal, we may never get to the bottom of the conspiracy. The senator has a reputation of being crafty. Only a cunning attorney general like Sessions would have a fighting chance.

To Greene’s point, it would also make sense to engage the counsel of Kislyak and Lavrov, both of whom are tightly linked to Trump and understand, with unparalleled insight, the inner workings of Russia’s hacking.

“To end the tremendous tyranny of Russia, and its terrible Ivans who have caused so much harm to our great country, which includes destroying the faith of the American people in their leaders and institutions, so sad, we must enlist the help of experts who can appoint a new FBI director with the vast knowledge of Russia to uncover what happened, who’s guilty and stop them before they strike again,” Trump said. “We’re dealing with bigly threats, not small fry Orientals from Korea.”

Conservative political analysts noted that hiring an enemy to help conquer an enemy is not a novel tactic. IBM actively employs ethical hackers to advise the company on how to optimize the integrity of their systems. Physical security firms also bring in reformed burglars, bandits and cyber criminals to develop protocols for fending off would-be attackers.

Allowing Sessions, Lavrov and Kislyak to appoint a similar miscreant to the FBI would ultimately add a superior level of familiarity, intelligence and experience to this confusing investigation -- something that could hasten its end and give the American people real closure.

(c) 2017. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. All articles are works of satire. See disclaimers.

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