Trump Attacks FBI Agent Peter Strzok Who Wants to Testify on Firing as ‘Sick Loser’

President Donald Trump called Peter Strzok a “sick loser” after the FBI agent said he’s willing to testify to Congress about his removal from the Russia probe for sending anti-Trump text messages. Special counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from his team last summer after an investigation revealed texts in which the agent said the FBI would stop Trump from becoming president. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said Friday he wanted to issue a subpoena for Strzok to testify as part of the House GOP investigation into the FBI’s actions in the 2016 election, but Strzok’s lawyer said his client “intends to voluntarily appear and testify before your committee and any other congressional committee that invites him.” Trump tweeted about Strzok late Sunday: “Why was the FBI’s sick loser, Peter Strzok, working on the totally discredited Mueller team of 13 Angry & Conflicted Democrats, when Strzok was giving Crooked Hillary a free pass yet telling his lover, lawyer Lisa Page, that ‘we’ll stop’ Trump from becoming President? Witch Hunt!”

[The Daily Beast]

Trump told 4 lies about the inspector general report in one short Fox News hit

President Donald Trump went on Fox & Friends to talk about the inspector general report on the FBI’s handling of the 2016 election on Friday. His comments contained at least four significant and demonstrable lies.

Let’s go through them.

Lie 1: the FBI was working against him during the campaign

“They were plotting against my election,” Trump said, in perhaps the biggest of the four lies.

This is not true. Inspector General Michael Horowitz was quite clear on this point in the report, which reviewed the FBI’s handling of both the Clinton email investigation and the early stages of the Trump-Russia probe. “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed,” Horowitz concluded.

Trump did eventually confront this uncomfortable fact during the interview. He claimed the no bias conclusion was irresponsible, a throwaway line at the end of the report.

Lie 2: The IG “blew it” by concluding the FBI wasn’t biased

“It was a pretty good report, and then I say the IG blew it at the end,” Trump told Fox’s Steve Doocy. The IG report was a horror show. I thought that one sentence of conclusion was ridiculous.”

The conclusion said that the FBI wasn’t biased was not a throwaway conclusion at the end of the report, but a conclusion that’s examined in-depth and repeated with some frequency throughout the report. Chapters five and 12 of the more than 500-page report, for example, look at anti-Trump text messages sent by Peter Strzok, the FBI’s deputy director for counterintelligence, to see if Strzok had allowed his anti-Trump sentiments to affect the investigation.

Investigators took a deep look at Strzok’s conduct after they came across the texts that seemingly threatened the Trump campaign and examined internal FBI records of the meetings concerning Trump that Strzok was involved in. According to Horowitz, they found that “Strzok was not the sole decisionmaker for any of the specific investigative decisions examined,” nor was there any evidence that he exercised inappropriate influence over any investigative decisions.

The conclusion that there was no bias, in short, wasn’t “one line” — it was a conclusion they arrived at after examining a tremendous amount of evidence, and a major focus of the report.

Lie 3: Trump says the IG report says he did nothing wrong

The third Trump lie is that the IG report somehow exonerated him on the question of collusion with Russia during the campaign. “I did nothing wrong, there was no collusion, there was no obstruction. The IG report yesterday went a long way to show that,” Trump said. “I think that the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.”

This is actually a number of different lies packed into three short sentences; a Russian nesting doll of lies, if you’ll pardon the metaphor.

The IG report did not come to any conclusions about the true nature of Trump-Russia ties. It only covered the appropriateness of the FBI’s conduct in 2016. It couldn’t come to any conclusions about obstruction of justice because Trump didn’t become president until 2017. Likewise, it couldn’t discredit the Mueller investigation because Mueller didn’t take over the investigation until President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last May.

Lie 4: James Comey is a criminal

And that brings us to our final lie. Fox’s Doocy asked Trump a leading question — “Should James Comey be locked up?” — and the president responded as expected:

Certainly, they just seem like very criminal acts to me. What he did was criminal. What he did was so bad in terms of our Constitution, in terms of the well-being of our country.

Once again, Horowitz’s report closely examined questions raised by Comey’s conduct. He was harshly critical of the former FBI director — “In key moments, then Director Comey chose to deviate from the FBI’s and the Department’s established procedures and norms and instead engaged in his own subjective, ad hoc decisionmaking” — but there’s no evidence in the report that Comey violated any kind of criminal statute, let alone acted unconstitutionally.

In fact, the report concludes, Comey’s decisions during the Clinton email investigation, while questionable, came from his professional judgment and were not the result of any malign intent.

“Comey’s decision was the result of his consideration of the evidence that the FBI had collected during the course of the investigation and his understanding of the proof required to pursue a prosecution under the relevant statutes,” as Horowitz puts it when discussing his closing of the Clinton email case.

Trump’s characterization of the IG report is thus basically wrong in every way.

[Vox]

Trump Blasts FBI’s Strzok and Page Over IG Report, Praises Himself For Firing Comey: ‘Good Instincts

President Donald Trump weighed in on the newly released inspector general’s report on the FBI’s investigations during the 2016 election, focusing on the texts exchanged between agent-cum-paramours Peter Strzokand Lisa Page.

“FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who headed the Clinton & Russia investigations, texted to his lover Lisa Page, in the IG Report, that “we’ll stop” candidate Trump from becoming President,” Trump said on Twitter. “Doesn’t get any lower than that!”

The text exchange between Strzok and Page has been exhibit A for the FBI’s critics that the agency was rankled with anti-Trump bias during the 2016 election, and the latest text exchange is certainly explicit. A few months before the 2016 election, Page texted Strzok that she feared Trump would win, and he reassured her: “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

Strzok was at the time serving as deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, and was working on the investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties as well as the Clinton email probe. But the inspector general concluded that despite Strzok’s clear and inappropriate bias, the was no evidence that he acted on his disdain for Trump.

In a subsequent tweet, Trump took aim at James Comey, calling the IG report “a total disaster” for the former FBI director and “his minions.”

“Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI,” Trump wrote, before praising his “good instincts” for “firing him.”

He also shouted out the current FBI director, Christopher Wray.

Comey brutalized Clinton’s campaign days before election day by publicly announcing the Clinton probe was being re-opened, while the FBI went to great lengths to keep the Trump-Russia probe quiet.

[Mediaite]

Trump Goes On Another ‘Witch Hunt’ Tweetstorm While Watching Lou Dobbs

President Trump is on another “witch hunt” tweetstorm, this time in response to watching a segment on Lou Dobbs‘ Fox Business Network program.

Dobbs hosted Judicial Watch director Chris Farrell and the President loved what he said so much that he tweeted it out, before concluding again there’s a “witch hunt” going on:

[Mediaite]

Media

 

Trump calls Russia probe ‘unconstitutional’

President Donald Trump is calling the special counsel Russia probe “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Trump tweets on Monday: “The appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!”

Trump’s team has sought to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani recently said the probe may need to be curtailed because, in his estimation, it was based on inappropriately obtained information from an informant and former FBI Director James Comey’s memos.

The FBI began a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 to determine whether Trump campaign associates coordinated with Russia to tip the election. The investigation was opened after the emails were hacked from Democratic officials’ accounts and published; intelligence officials later formally attributed the breach to Russia.

[PBS]

Trump: I have the right to pardon myself

President Trump on Monday said he has the right to pardon himself but insisted he has no reason to do so because he has not committed a crime, doubling down on an argument his lawyers made to the special counsel leading the Russia investigation.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” the president wrote in an early morning tweet.

“In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”

Trump’s statements will almost certainly inflame the debate over whether he can use his presidential powers to protect himself if Mueller accuses him of wrongdoing in the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The question was reignited over the weekend when The New York Times published a January letter from the president’s legal team that opened the door to Trump shutting down the obstruction investigation into him or even pardoning himself.

“He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired,” the attorneys wrote to Mueller.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was not a member of the team when the letter was sent, but he nonetheless agreed with the expansive view of the president’s powers shared by his predecessor, John Dowd.

Giuliani said on ABC News’s “This Week” that while the president “probably” does have the power to issue himself a pardon, it would not be politically expedient.

“I think the political ramifications of that would be tough. Pardoning other people is one thing. Pardoning yourself is another,” the former New York City mayor said.

The idea of a self-pardon received pushback from legal scholars and Democrats, who said it shows the president believes he is above the law.

They fear that a string of politically tinged pardons made by Trump is a sign he could be gearing up to use clemency to shield his associates who have been indicted in the Russia probe — or even himself.

Some Republican allies of Trump also warned him not to pardon himself.

“I don’t think a president should pardon themselves,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

[The Hill]

‘Stormtrooper tactics’: Trump compares his own Justice Dept. to Nazi assault troops

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation team was similar to Nazi “stormtroopers.”

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Trump quoted Mark Penn, a former Democratic strategist.

“Why are there people from the Clinton Foundation on the Mueller Staff? Why is there an Independent Counsel? To go after people and their families for unrelated offenses…Constitution was set up to prevent this…Stormtrooper tactics almost,” the tweet quoting Penn said.

Trump added: “Disgrace!”

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani also compared FBI agents to “stormtroopers” last month after they raided the office of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

“I know the New York FBI,” former FBI Director James Comey tweeted in response to Giuliani. “There are no ‘stormtroopers’ there; just a group of people devoted to the rule of law and the truth. Our country would be better off if our leaders tried to be like them, rather than comparing them to Nazis.”

[Raw Story]

Reality

Trump is referring to Jeannie Rhee, who did in-fact represent Hillary Clinton in a 2015 lawsuit that sought access to her private emails. She also represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering lawsuit, that was quickly thrown out for being frivolous and “did not allege any facts.”

What escapes Trump’s criticism is Rhee also has the experience and credentials to be a part of this investigation, having once served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General under former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Why didn’t FBI, DOJ tell me agents were ‘secretly investigating’ Manafort?

President Trump on Sunday blasted the FBI and Department of Justice for not telling him that agents were “secretly investigating” his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, during the 2016 election.

“As only one of two people left who could become President, why wouldn’t the FBI or Department of ‘Justice’ have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort (on charges that were 10 years old and had been previously dropped) during my campaign?” Trump asked in a tweet.

He added that Manafort “came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time,” but said the campaign “should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him, and he wouldn’t have been hired!”

Trump named Manafort head of his campaign in May 2016, but the businessman stepped down in August of that year after media reports of his dealings with the Ukrainian government emerged.

CNN reported last year that Manafort had been under FBI surveillance before and after the 2016 election. He reportedly became the central subject of a probe that began in 2014.

Manafort faces several charges as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation, including tax fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. The charges largely relate to his work for Ukrainian politicians.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His business associate and former Trump campaign staffer Richard Gates reached a plea deal with Mueller’s team and has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.

[The Hill]

Reality

First, at the time you weren’t the president.

Second, if your top guys including Manafort were meeting with Russian spies and some of Putin’s best friends, why didn’t you tell the FBI?

Trump promises to get back to work and stop obsessing over ‘Rigged Russia Witch Hunt’

President Donald Trump offered a false apology Tuesday morning and promised to stop obsessing over the special counsel investigation — after tweeting four times about the probe in one hour.

The president accused “Angry Democrats” of “meddling” in the upcoming midterm elections with a sprawling investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign’s ties to Russia and other foreign governments, which has resulted in five guilty pleas and 17 indictments.

He tweeted twice more about the investigation before promising to get back to work.

“Sorry, I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more, and not on the Rigged Russia Witch Hunt that should be investigating Clinton/Russia/FBI/Justice/Obama/Comey/Lynch etc.,” the president tweeted.

[Raw Story]

Trump live tweets Fox News to push claims of campaign surveillance

President Trump on Monday tweeted quotes from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley’s appearance on “Fox & Friends” to bolster his claims of surveillance on his presidential campaign.

Trump also quoted Turley, a constitutional law professor and contributor to The Hill, to slam former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump fired last year.

“I think the president has raised a legitimate issue. I don’t agree with how he did it but to say that we shouldn’t investigate this matter is rather bizarre,” Turley said on the Fox News show prior to the president’s tweets.

“We now find out that the Obama administration put the opposing campaign’s presidential candidate, or his campaign, under investigation,” he continued. “That raises legitimate questions.”

Turley also criticized Yates for her decision to not defend the first iteration of Trump’s travel ban on refugees from several majority-Muslim countries. The president fired her over the decision when she was serving as acting attorney general.

The law professor was responding to Yates saying that Trump has “taken the assault on the rule of law to a new level.”

“I’m afraid that it’s a rather ironic statement because she is part of the concerns people have raised about bias in the Justice Department,” Turley said.

“She told an entire department to stand down and not to defend the president’s first immigration order,” he said. “I said at the time that she was fired for good cause, I still believe that. I find her actions to be really quite unbelievable.”

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the FBI spied on his campaign during the 2016 election.

[The Hill]

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