May 17, 2017

And now, it's Comey's turn to change his story

A week ago, Comey's claim, via his own set of leakers, is that Trump asked him to be his consigliere, Comey said no, and that was that.

Yesterday, Comey's claiming no, really, it was about Russia. Well, the part about investigating Michael Flynn's alleged, potential, possible Russia connections. And, Comey says, while he doesn't have tapes, he does have memos.

My thoughts?

Comey's a skilled bureaucrat, a skilled non-elected politician, and a skilled bureaucratic infighter. He's probably guessing that "Russia" plays better with the GOP side of the Congressional aisle than does "not kissing The Donald's pinkie ring."

Of course, this is if you believe that Michael Flynn had illegal, or unethical, contacts with Russian officials.

I do not believe he had any illegal contacts. And, in the arena of what passes for political ethics in D.C., I don't think he had any unethical contacts — with Russia. The Russia Today payment? A nothingburger in D.C. terms, in my opinion. Speaking with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak? Well, gee, the man IS Russia's ambassador to the US and Flynn WAS National Security Advisor-designate.

Yes, we're learning more about how many previously undisclosed contacts Flynn, or other Trump surrogates, had with Kislyak or other Russians. Again, though, none of them illegal. And, really, other than the non-disclosure, none unethical. And, Counterpunch is probably right in that the national security establishment is working hand-in-hand with the mainstream media (whose leakers about Trump's Israeli intell leaking may be worse than Trump's original leaking) to make this nothingburger into a Big Mac.

Oh, presidents in general use unofficial backchannels. The issues are:
A. To what ends?
B. How skillfully are they used?

Unfortunately, Trump's idea of undercutting the national security establishment, while laudable in some ways, was undercut by both his general incompetence and his refusal to look at actual intelligence evaluations, even if he took a different line on them than the nat-sec eggs.

Meanwhile, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller to be special prosecutor in this case is reassuring as far as Rosenstein's ethics, and surely reassuring to the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. A good thing? That's another issue.

Back to the thread of Flynn himself.

Flynn's contacts with Turkish President Erdogan, or intermediaries, is a whole nother issue than the Russia contacts. They probably need investigation. And, they probably won't get investigatoin.

A full investigation might show otherwise on both Russia and Turkey. Or it might simply finish scapegoating Flynn. Flynn's a nutbar, with a son who's an Alex Jones-level nutbar. Flynn was an idiot when he ran the DIA. I feel no sympathy for him.

But "Turkey" ain't "Russia" in the jaundiced, bloodshot eyes of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. (This is also why I don't see a Nixonian conspiracy behind Comey's firing.)

And, the Emoluments Clause?

Not in effect. Flynn had retired from the military and had not yet been confirmed as National Security Advisor. A technicality, yes, but I know the Constitution better than the Peter Principle inside-the-Beltway and Acela Corridor media do. Ditto for whoever contributed to, and edited, Flynn's Wikipedia page.

Oh, and if it's not obvious by now, while AG Loretta Lynch did leave him semi-hanging at times, I still don't have a lot of sympathy for Comey, either. I've said that in more detail last week.

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