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 slams Jeff Sessions, suggests a different attorney general would have stopped Russia probe

President Donald Trump is blaming his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for allowing the Russia investigation to continue. Trump tweets that he would have “picked someone else” for the top job at the Justice Department had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the probe.

It’s the latest salvo from Trump in his bid to discredit the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is investigating Russia’s attempts to sway voters in the 2016 election and whether Trump associates provided any help. He’s also investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by taking steps to shut down the probe

Trump tweeted Tuesday: “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself…I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined…and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!”

[CNBC]

Trump suggests political bias to blame in Clinton email report’s delay

President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that the release of a Justice Department inspector general report into the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information is being delayed in order to make it more sympathetic to those being investigated.

“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey. Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!” Trump tweeted.

The much-anticipated report is not directed at reviewing Clinton’s actions, but will examine former FBI Director Comey and other senior officials at the Justice Department and FBI under the Obama administration. It will include a review of whether “certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper consideration.”

A draft of the report has been completed, sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN last month, and has been sent to lawyers for the various individuals criticized in it so that they can review it with their clients and submit rebuttal points for consideration. Many submitted their feedback to the inspector general last week, the sources said.

Its public release is expected any day.

The report, which is headed by Inspector General Michael Horowitz and was launched in January 2017, has the potential to deliver the stiffest blow for officials who formerly occupied the highest positions within the FBI and Justice Department.

One potential preview of Horowitz’s findings on decisions by Comey was already outlined in a blistering memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which detailed the ways Comey broke with long-standing department protocols and customs in the Clinton email investigation. Rosenstein’s memo, controversial in its own regard, was initially used to rationalize firing Comey, but then Trump later said he would have done it regardless of Rosenstein’s memo, and has since defended his decision as a “great honor.”

[CNN]

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]

Giuliani: Trump Could Have Shot Comey And Still Couldn’t Be Indicted For It

Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump’s lawyer says Trump could shoot the FBI director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it.

“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.”

Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior ― even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him.

“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”

Norm Eisen, the White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the silliness of Giuliani’s claim illustrates how mistaken Trump’s lawyers are about presidential power.

“A president could not be prosecuted for murder? Really?” he said. “It is one of many absurd positions that follow from their argument. It is self-evidently wrong.”

Eisen and other legal scholars have concluded that the constitution offers no blanket protection for a president from criminal prosecution. “The foundation of America is that no person is above the law,” he said. “A president can under extreme circumstances be indicted, but we’re facing extreme circumstances.”

Giuliani’s comments came a day after The New York Times revealed that Trump’s lawyers in January made their case to special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump could not possibly have obstructed justice because he has the ability to shut down any investigation at any time.

“He could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired,” Jay Sekulow and John Dowd wrote in a 20-page letter. Dowd has since left Trump’s legal team, replaced by Giuliani.

The letter also admits that Trump “dictated” a statement that was then released by his son, Donald Trump Jr., regarding a meeting held at Trump Tower in June 2016 between top Trump campaign officials and Russians with links to that country’s spy agencies.

That meeting was scheduled after the Russians said they had damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that would be of use to the Trump campaign. The Trump-dictated statement falsely claimed the meeting was primarily about the adoption of Russian children by American families ― the same topic that Trump claimed had been the substance of a conversation he had had with Russian leader Vladimir Putin the previous evening in Germany.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded during the 2016 campaign that not only was Russia interfering in the U.S. election, but was actively trying to help Trump win.

Both Sekulow and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed, falsely, that Trump had not dictated the statement, but had merely offered his son suggestions. Sanders on Sunday referred questions about the matter to Trump’s outside legal team.

Giuliani said Sekulow was misinformed about the Trump Tower meeting, which in any case was not that significant. “In this investigation, the crimes are really silly,” he said, arguing that the firing of Comey last year could not be construed as obstruction of justice because Trump had the right to fire him at any time and for any reason. “This is pure harassment, engineered by the Democrats.”

Comey had been leading the FBI probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence until his dismissal, which led to the appointment of Mueller to take it over. Within two days of the firing, Trump told both NBC News and Russian officials visiting him in the Oval Office that he had done it because of the investigation.

Eisen said Giuliani’s assertion, taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that a mob boss under investigation by the FBI could give Trump a bribe to fire the FBI director, Trump could explain on television that he had done so “because of this Mafia thing,” and then not face criminal charges.

“Well, of course it would be appropriate to initiate a prosecution,” he said. “I think the legally correct answer is, as usual, the opposite of Giuliani’s answer.”

Giuliani, once the mayor of New York City and prior to that the U.S. attorney there, took charge of Trump’s outside legal team in April, saying then that he planned to wrap the whole thing up within a few weeks. Now he said he is not sure when it will end because Mueller is taking too long and not turning over material to Giuliani ― such as a report of what was learned from an FBI informant who made contact with several members of the Trump campaign with links to Russia.

Giuliani said he has so far met with Trump about 10 times and spoken to him on the phone another 40 or so times, totaling at least 75 hours of conversation. “I’m not billing by the hour, otherwise I could tell you exactly,” he joked about the case he has taken on for free.

Mueller’s investigation has so far resulted in the guilty pleas of five people, including three former Trump campaign staffers, and the indictment of 14 other people and three companies. That total includes 13 Russians, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” that was used to create and disseminate propaganda to help Trump win.

A related investigation by Giuliani’s former U.S. attorney’s office is examining the dealings of longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. A former business partner has agreed to cooperate in that probe and plead to New York state charges.

[Huffington Post]

‘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.

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