613

This is the final word on the Comeygate scandal writ large. while it’s been the greatly neglected side of Watergate 2.0, as we saw in previous chapters, Comeygate and Russiagate converge in any case.

Here is the closing argument on Comeygate. I think that Seth Abramson gets much of the particulars right. 

“Information presently public and available confirms that Erik Prince, Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump conspired to intimidate FBI Director James Comey into interfering in, and thus directly affecting, the 2016 presidential election. This conspiracy was made possible with the assistance of officers in the New York Police Department and agents within the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All of the major actors in the conspiracy have already confessed to its particulars either in word or in deed; moreover, all of the major actors have publicly exhibited consciousness of guilt after the fact. This assessment has already been the subject of articles in news outlets on both sides of the political spectrum, but has not yet received substantial investigation by major media.”

No it hasn’t, and as I explain elsewhere the reason for this lack of attention by the major media is because on some level they themselves are implicated-had they not so absurdly weaponized the damn emails-and so absurdly amplified it after the Comey letter Comeygate would never have such an outsized effect in the first place.

One of my own strongly held premises going back to late 2016-early 2017 was the convergence of Comeygate and Russiagate. Note I had this suspicion long before we learned of Comey’s fake Russian documents or the efforts by the Russian hackers and trolls to exploit the very highly weaponized Emailgate scandal-thanks to the MSM and the anti Clinton bias at the FBI.

This comes down to something Malcom Nance always says: there’s a difference between thinking like a journalist and an intelligence agent. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence-mainstream journalists often assume that it is unless the subject is Hillary Clinton. While I have been aware and studied Abramson’s work, I’ve only now noticed that he too believes there was convergence:

“While a full summary of the Prince-Giuliani-Trump conspiracy would require a longer discourse, the actions of these men, along with multiple still-anonymous actors, can be summarized in five paragraphs. It will be for journalists with more resources than this writer to follow up on these leads—and, moreover, to see how this domestic conspiracy dovetails with the Trump-Russia controversy, though this too is briefly addressed below.”

Hopefully the hungry, enterprising, ambitious journalists I have imagined at points in this book come forward happy to find a less crowded area of investigation-come on in the water’s warm.

“As reported by the New York Times, FBI Director James Comey released his now-infamous October 27th letter in substantial part because he had determined that “word of the new emails [found on Anthony Weiner’s computer]…was sure to leak out.” Comey worried that if the leak occurred at a time when the nature and evidentiary value of the “new” emails was unknown, he “risked being accused of misleading Congress and the public ahead of an election.” By October 27th, the FBI had had access to Weiner’s computer—which it originally received from NYPD—since October 3rd, during which interval the Bureau had both the time and IT know-how to determine that the “new” emails in its possession were in fact duplicate emails from accounts already revealed to the Bureau by Clinton, her aide Huma Abedin, and the State Department. However, when Comey was briefed on the case by agents from the New York field office on October 26th, he discovered that not only had this IT work not been done, but in fact no warrant to seize the full emails had been sought, no permission to read the emails had been requested from cooperating witnesses Weiner and Abedin, and indeed nothing but a summary of the emails’ “meta-data” (non-content header information) had been prepared by his agents. The result of this investigative nonfeasance was that Comey feared he would not be able to get a warrant for the emails and confirm them as duplicates prior to Election Day—a fact that would allow anti-Clinton elements within NYPD and the FBI, and Trump surrogates and advisers with sources in these organizations, to mischaracterize the “new” emails in a way that would swing the election to Trump. As long as the Clinton investigation remained open, Comey would not be able to respond to such misinformation; his only hope of keeping public discussion of the “new” emails within the sphere of reality was to use the cover of a prior promise to Congress to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation—and then close that investigation in short order.

“The effort to intimidate Comey into publicly commenting on the Clinton case—a win-win scenario for Trump, as either a comment from Comey or silence from Comey (the latter coupled with inaccurate, Hatch Act-violative leaks by the FBI, NYPD, and/or the Trump campaign) would sink Clinton—began concurrent to Comey’s October 26th briefing on the Clinton case. In an October 25th Fox & Friends appearance and an October 26th appearance on Fox News with Martha McCallum, Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s closest advisers, began teasing an October “surprise” which, Giuliani said, would turn the tide against Hillary Clinton. He refused to say what the forthcoming surprise would be, but he indicated that it would be coming in just a few days. Meanwhile, Erik Prince—the founder of Blackwater private security, one of Trump’s biggest donors, a conspiracy theorist who’d previously accused Huma Abedin of being a terrorist in the employ of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a man who blamed Clinton family friend and former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta for outing him as a CIA asset in 2009—was positioning himself to play an important role. Just as Giuliani had boasted on the Mark Larson radio program on October 28th that he had sources within the FBI—active agents—who had told him of virulent anti-Clinton sentiment in the New York field office and an internal rebellion against Comey’s July decision not to indict Clinton, Prince claimed to have sources within the Weiner investigation who were illegally leaking information to him. In Prince’s case, the sources were within NYPD, and the information he relayed from them to Breitbart News on November 4th—when it was not yet known that Comey, the next day, would reveal the “new” Clinton emails to be duplicates—turned out to be almost entirely false. The full extent of Prince’s lies on November 4th, all of which were Trump campaign disinformation delivered by an adviser and major donor to the campaign, are too numerous and spectacular to list here.”

FN: Check out his post for the quotes of Prince’s specific allegations which I did cover in earlier chapters. (This comment perhaps should be footnoted. Find links)

“Prince’s statements of November 4th—whether given with the knowledge that they were untrue or without any knowledge of their accuracy whatsoever—underscore the sort of disinformation Comey feared would be given to voters, and, more importantly, believed by voters, if he did not complete his investigation into the duplicate emails and announce his findings before Election Day. This alone explains his deviation from FBI protocol prohibiting discussion of open cases (and announcements regarding major investigations within two months of a general election).”

FN: Note that in the previous chapter we look at Randall Schoenberg’s far less charitable explanation of Comey’s indefensible letter than offered by Abramson here-one that is widely shared.

“It seems very possible that Giuliani, who was the top surrogate for the Trump campaign and in near-daily contact with the candidate, acted under orders from Trump, and that Prince either acted under orders from Trump or Steve Bannon—well-known to Prince from their mutual association with, and financial investment in, Breitbart and its ownership, including Robert Mercer—and, moreover, that all those associated with the conspiracy were subsequently rewarded. Erik Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, was named Education Secretary by Trump, despite having no experience for the job other than advocating sporadically for charter schools in Michigan. Prince himself was named a shadow adviser to Trump, even though, by November 8th, the fact that his statements to Breitbart had been part of a domestic disinformation campaign was clear. Prince is so close to Trump that he appears to have been present at the election-night returns-watching party to which Trump invited only close friends and associates: Prince’s wife posted pictures of the event.”

Indeed, as we saw in Chapter A Chuck Johnson-who paid Sydney Leathers for evidence Anthony Weiner is a pedophile see Chapter A-was also at Trump’s after election party.

“Giuliani, originally assured a Cabinet position and then separated from the Trump team entirely—perhaps as punishment for his carelessness on Fox News—was then given a highly lucrative but substance-free position within the administration on the same day, January 12th, that the DOJ announced that the Inspector General would be investigating the sequence of events comprising the Prince-Giuliani-Trump conspiracy. Inspector General Horowitz noted that within his brief was investigation of the series of leaks that occurred between the NYPD, the FBI, and outside entities—including, we can surmise based on context, the Trump campaign.”

Yes that IG report will be a must read. The worry is that here we are literally 21 months after the IG investigation of Emailgate was commenced and we’ve still yet to see the part of the report dealing with leaks by the FBI rogue anti Clinton pro Trump agents.

 

UPDATE: Today is now February 21, 2019 and we still haven’t seen the IG report on the leaks of the anti Clinton pro Trump agents-nor have the Democrats yet publicly demanded them

It’s for this reason in a subsequent chapter I look at the question of wether the IG investigation itself has been compromised by pro Trump political pressure. Note that the true bombshell about the fake Russian document didn’t make the IG report released in June, 2018, yet there is large parts of it focusing on the faux scandal of the texts of Peter Strozkl and Lisa Page.

Then there was the release of the McCabe part of the report that was released before the main one in June. It just seems that the IG has been VERY responsive to Trump and Congressional GOP gripes and demands. This is why Matthew Miller’s warning in Chapter A needs to be heeded. The Dems these days mostly praise and sing the FBI’s praises while it rigged the election for the GOP Presidential candidate. Yet the GOP-not the Democrats accuses the FBI of being biased and unfair.

UPDATE 2.0: Today is November 2, 2019 and we still haven’t seen them nor have the Dems publicly demanded them-though they are very busy now with the impeachment investigation-that Comeygate should ultimately be part of. In that time the IG has also released a report on Comey which rather fittingly perhaps finds Comey guilty of no criminal wrongdoing but still rakes him over the coals as acting highly improper and wrongly-extremely careless indeed. 

Beyond that the IG is now investigating the Russian Collusion investigators themselves-Bill Barr is browbeating foreign intel services to prove somehow the investigators did something wrong.

End of UPDATE 2.0:

Notice something asymmetric and paradoxical here? As Miller-Obama’s former DOJ spokesman argues, maybe Dems should start making some demands of the FBI and DOJ itself. I get it-the top priority for the Dems the last two years was understandably doing what they could to protect the independence of the Mueller investigation.

Still, they need to change their posture towards the FBI a little-if they want to close the enormous gap between FBI responsiveness to the GOP and mostly a cold shoulder to the Democrats.

The FBI was Trumpland in 2016. In the last two years the FBI has been part of the Trump’s DOJ. Do you think this means the FBI is more or less biased in favor of Trump than in 2016? Now, if you’re not a Trump loyalist it could be your career. There is real danger to you in simply criticizing the so-called ‘President’ as Lisa Page and Peter Strozk can attest.

FN: Indeed post Ukraine if you’re listening it’s become clear to what extent Trump has politicized a great many agencies beginning with State and the DOJ.

End FN.

Regarding Abramson, I think his overall picture is accurate. There are a few things though that should be added.

1. First of all let me just say that I think his only real mistake-or the only part of his story I disagree with in any case-is the characterization of Comey. I feel it’s too charitable in terms of his motivations. It almost seems to be suggesting that his choice was the right one or at least it was inevitable considering the pressures he was under.

With that I totally disagree. Remember the very tough words that many in the IC had for Comey’s presser in (Chapter B+).  I think those words apply doubly regarding his letter that flipped an election.

So I agree with everything from Abramson here-and clearly I lean on much of his analysis in this book-but think he’s a little overly charitable towards Comey. Indeed, Comey has virtually universally gotten the benefit of the doubt until now. Even those who criticize his actions very sharply still think at most he was the victim of the rogue agents. And I agree but these rogue agents are largely a product of the culture Comey himself created. His ‘insubordination’ that the IG condemns clearly had an effect on rank and file agents. If  Comey can just ignore protocol whenever he feels like it, if he can just go off on a fit of ad hockery whenever he feels his own judgment is better than agency policy and rules, then why can’t they?

Again, until now Comey has been treated very charitably. In this vein the work of E. Randol Schoenberg is a breath of fresh air. Give Abramson a little more credit-I only know about Schoenberg through him. But what you have to like about Schoenberg is he doesn’t give Comey the benefit of the doubt and this is a healthy corrective as Comey has been treated extremely charitably-far too charitably, almost everywhere else.

The one thing that Schoenberg gets right and no one else has caught is that Comey is-or at least was-a GOP partisan. 

As we noted in (Chapter C) this just means he fits in very well at the FBI which is a very Republican place. Comey was a Republican, so was Andy McCabe-so is-was? I don’t know-Mueller. Of course Mueller proves you can be a Republican and run a legitimate investigation.

FN: Though it’s become clear since his report was released the extent to which he pulled his punches in terms of not just declination decisions but in process.

End FN

Since this week the media was “all Comey, all the time” — thanks to the publication of his book, Higher Loyalty, and the release of his memos about his meetings with Donald Trump— I might as well record my thoughts as well.

“I am focused on just one aspect of Comey’s legacy, namely his fateful decision on Thursday, October 27, 2016 to allow the FBI to obtain a search warrant to look at e-mails between Hillary Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin that were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.  I have called this decision “the biggest mistake in the history of mistakes” and I still stand by that characterization.   There is really no serious doubt that Comey’s decision changed the outcome of the election and helped elect Donald Trump.  Benjamin Wittes has recently argued that the difference between Trump’s chances of winning, as calculated by Nate Silver, on October 27 (20%) and November 8 (28%), are too close to make that determination, but he doesn’t really grapple with the stats, and the fact that, according to Silver, Trump’s chances narrowed to as close as 35% on Sunday, November 6, when the FBI announced that the e-mail search revealed nothing incriminating.  The predictors are of course imprecise, but the outcome of this particular election can be explained by the fact that, as my college friend Ed Glaser has argued, information travels less quickly in rural areas, like those in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Trump managed to hold on to a very, very narrow victory.  Even with the FBI email debacle, had the election happened one or two days later, Clinton almost certainly would have won, as the public sentiment gradually returned to where it was on October 27.”

There’s a little bit of innumeracy on Wittes’ part going on. Even on its face the difference between a 20% and 28% chance that late in the game is significant. Silver has been very clear-as well as other polling analysts like Will Jordan-that the Comey letter likely cost Clinton the election. Indeed, after his book came out, Andy McCabe-who was the deputy FBI Director right under Comey says the same thing-the Comey letter likely won Trump the election.

“The other reason that I focus on Comey’s mistake is that he has yet to admit he made a mistake.  In fact, he continues to claim that if he had it to do all over again, he would make the same decision.  “I am convinced that if I could do it all again, I would do the same thing, given my role and what I knew at the time.” (Page 207.) Many people have focused on the ridiculous “Speak or Conceal” dichotomy that Comey has set up in his mind to explain away his error.  He seems simply incapable of applying the actual facts as they developed to help him see that a different, and very justifiable, decision would have been preferable.  The most he offers is this:

Another person might have decided to wait to see what the investigators could see once they got a search warrant for the Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer. That’s a tricky one, because the Midyear team [the FBI team working on the e-mails] was saying there was no way to complete the review before the election, but I could imagine another director deciding to gamble a bit by investigating secretly in the week before the election. That, of course, walks into Loretta Lynch’s point after our awkward hug. Had I not said something, what was the prospect of a leak during that week? Pretty high. Although the Midyear team had proven itself leakproof through a year of investigation, people in the criminal investigation section of the FBI in New York knew something was going on that touched Hillary Clinton, and a search warrant was a big step. The circle was now larger than it had ever been, and included New York, where we’d had Clinton-related leaks in prior months. Concealing the new investigation and then having it leak right before the election might have been even worse, if worse can be imagined. But a reasonable person might have done it.

“Obviously, Comey is simply incapable of imagining the world as it would have been had he made a different choice.  What could he possibly mean by “might have been even worse”?  Worse than what actually transpired?  Worse than his firing by President Trump?  What exactly is he imagining that would be worse?  Really, what is it?”

This is a very good question. If what has actually resulted from his interventions into the election to elect Donald Trump-a candidate Comey knew his own FBI was investigating for collusion with the Russian government-is merely very bad how would he describe catastrophic? 

Being yelled at by Trey Gowdy? It simply beggars belief.

What also beggers belief is that Comey didn’t realize it only takes a few days with the technology the FBI has at its disposal today to go through 30,000 emails.

“I think Comey is imagining something that he knows now isn’t true, but that he really thought would be true when he made the decision on October 27.  Comey thought the FBI was going to find something incriminating.  He really did.  It is the only way to understand his decision-making then, and his attempt to justify it now.  What he was deathly afraid of was that Clinton would win and then afterwards it would be revealed that she had actually committed a crime.  In that scenario, the wrath of the world that he lived in — almost exclusively Republican — would have come squarely down on his head. That was the scenario he most feared, and that he most wanted to avoid.  That was why the “Conceal” door, as he describes it, looked so threatening.  He didn’t see that inside that door was another, much more likely scenario — that the FBI would find nothing incriminating on the laptop, making his failure to disclose the new search both harmless and easy to explain.  The Conceal door only becomes scary if you think the chance of finding incriminating evidence was higher than the chance of not finding any.  Comey thought Clinton was guilty, and that the FBI would find, as he called it in his Senate testimony, the “golden e-mails” proving her guilt, that had eluded them so far.”

Wether or not you buy Schoenberg’s explanation it does a much better job of explaining why Comey thought the ‘conceal’ door was so threatening.

What makes my take on Comey somewhat difference-sort of a dialectical position between him and Abramson is I think Comey-unlike the rogue Trump agents-was multi dimensional.

His id was that of a partisan Republican with the natural, congenital, tendency to believe the Clintons are in fact the demon seed; as we saw in Chapter A a large swath of the FBI voiced the opinion in 2016 that Clinton was literally the anti Christ.

But that’s Comey’s id. Unlike the rogue agents-to say nothing of Trump and his apologists, he isn’t totally motivated by satisfying his own id. He also has a well developed ego and super ego. As argued in (Chapter C) Comey is also motivated by a kind of moral vanity that wants to have this reputation of incredible integrity-where he is the last moral man in the FBI or in the world.

This moral vanity, of course, isn’t a good thing either as it led him to feel that somehow just following protocol was small or even ‘cowardly’-he uses the C word himself as quoted by the IG report.

Beyond that, Comey has a sincere desire to do right by the FBI-and his own reputation. He certainly doesn’t want a reputation as a GOP hack-so much of his machinations throughout his career-like with Ashcroft in the W years-was about giving himself this reputation of ‘fierce independence and integrity.’

Be that as it may if Schoenberg’s interpretation of why what Comey wrongly calls ‘conceal’ was so threatening is correct it really leads to some very serious concerns not just about Comey’s motivations but his competence. I mean the Emailgate investigation was never legitimately predicated in the first place. For Comey to honestly believe that the chance of finding Clinton guilty of something criminal on that late date was anything more than minuscule seriously calls into question his judgment.

It suggests his partisan GOP id to believe the Clintons are criminals was so strong it overcame his better judgment.

Yet it makes a certain amount of sense: why else would he talk of ‘golden emails?’ This makes him sound like Peter Smith-or Donald Trump Russia if you’re listening. 

It should have been obvious at the time that the emails that somehow got on Weiner’s laptop-in (ch X) we look at how they might have got there; turns out they got some help and Roger Stone and Jeremy Corsi know a lot about it-were likely to be duplicates.

So while I do think Comey had these other dimensions, it’s true that his id got the better of him in myriad ways.

Then there was the tendency of Comey and McCabe to be gamed by the Trump rogue agents again and again. When Comey saw a fake Russian document he knew was fake-assuming he knew it was fake is giving him the benefit of the doubt although in his Congressional testimony he sounded like he believed it may well have been real-and rather than go through the correct protocol (laid out in Chapter D)-he simply did a presser to somehow reassure Clinton haters who’d also seen the fake document he showed the problem of worrying more about the perception of fairness among people who hated Clinton rather than conducting a fair investigation in fact.

Indeed, he was unfair to Clinton to the point of stealing the election from her to reassure Trumpland he wasn’t biased in her favor-and even now Trumpland insists he gave her special treatment all along.

In any case the Democrats have a lot of things they need to ask Comey when he voluntarily testifies before the Comeygate Select Committee next year.

Ok so that was the one part of Abramson’s story I disagreed with. We have to be less charitable on the way Comey conducted that investigation.

Now here are a few things I would add to Comeygate.

2. Roger Stone and Jeremy Corsi’ clear knowledge and involvement. From the way Stone relates it in his book it sounds like Corsi was the more involved but that Stone had lots of knowledge. Still I’m certainly not going to assume Stone wasn’t actively involved himself-he is the last person who ever gets a benefit of the doubt.

UPDATE: Again, I wrote this on October, 23, 2018, since then we’ve learned a lot more about the relationship between Stone and Corsi via their emails and it’s now clear that Corsi worked for Stone. So whatever Corsi’ role was in getting Huma’s emails onto Weiner’s laptop and whatever work he did to assist the FBI rogue agents it’s clear that he was acting at Stone’s direction-and that Stone was telling senior aides in the Trump campaign-Bannon, et. al-as well as calling and informing Trump himself-just like with the Podesta emails.

I cover Stone’s uncanny knowledge about both who the rogue agents at the FBI who forced Comey’s hand are and just how Huma’s emails got on Weiner’s laptop in (Chapter C).

3. Finally the Weinergate side of Comeygate that I cover in multiple chapters (X, Y, and Z).

The fact is the GOP had been trying to frame Weiner as a pedophile for years. They weren’t trying to simply catch him in the act-as there was not a shred of evidence he was a pedophile-they set up multiple honey traps. Indeed, the fact that Weiner was still answering sexts by 2016 underscores just how weak he is and how poor his impulse control was as by then the only women sexting him were GOP operatives.

Then they finally ‘got lucky.’ After years of trying to prove him a pedophile he just happened to start sexting a 15 year old on his own. What a lucky coincidence for the GOP operatives who’d hoped to weaponize a Weiner scandal against Hillary Clinton herself.

Of course a central premise of this book is coincidences take a lot of planning-ie Nance’s Law.

And indeed it turns out that Chuck Johnson was paying Sydney Leathers for intel on Weiner; Leathers is who successfully catfished and sunk Weiner’s chance at redemption in 2013 in the NYC mayoral race.

There’s a lot more to Weinergate as I document in multiple chapters-there is the scandalous fact that this young woman, while underage at the time had chosen to entrap Weiner, she had in her own words hoped to get him to start sexting-so as to entrap him. There’s her father, a conservative GOP ideologue with major gambling bills. The young woman was paid $3000 grand for her story-and her father immediately snatched it to pay his outstanding gambling debts.

The GOP has been very successful in demonizing Weiner beyond all reason-in the sense that many get angry at the very idea that there’s more to this than that Weiner is just this yucky pedophile; ie they are impervious to reason-but if anyone corrupted a minor it seems the big heavy here may be her father rather than Weiner who’d never engaged in sexting a minor previously as far as we know and who by her own account was entrapped into doing it here.

Then you have Trump’s pretty uncanny prediction in August of 2015 that ‘Weiner will tell the world’ about Hillary Clinton (Chapter X).

Again-coincidences take a lot of planning. and clearly in Comeygate there was a great deal of planning along multiple tracks.

But at this point there is so much that is not known. Mainstream journalists have decidedly  not answered Abramson’s call:

“While a full summary of the Prince-Giuliani-Trump conspiracy would require a longer discourse, the actions of these men, along with multiple still-anonymous actors, can be summarized in five paragraphs. It will be for journalists with more resources than this writer to follow up on these leads—and, moreover, to see how this domestic conspiracy dovetails with the Trump-Russia controversy, though this too is briefly addressed below.”

The coming Democratic Congress must begin to do this in January, 2019.

UPDATE: We are now on February 21, 2019 and the Dems have yet to make a peep about it. They’re still being unnecessarily skittish:

“There were widespread expectations when the Democrats took control of the House that an early, if not the first, order of business would be to go after President Trump’s tax returns.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this month that the House would pursue the returns, something she noted Americans overwhelmingly support. But she added, “We have to be very, very careful as we go forward. It’s not an issue of just sending a letter. You have to do it in a very careful way.”

Actually, it is more or less an issue of just sending a letter. Pelosi, and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), are being unduly skittish.

“Neal has declined even to offer a timeline of when he would seek the returns. He has suggested that the request will provoke a “long and arduous” court case, analogous to the subpoena battles that Congress in recent years has waged to at best checkered results.”

But there is a critical difference in the legal authorities governing a request for tax returns and a general congressional subpoena.

The law that permits Neal, as head of Ways and Means, to receive Trump’s returns is simple and clear: 26 U.S.C. §6103(f) specifies that “upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives … the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.” The return is furnished in closed executive session.

“Shall” means, well, shall. The language is the well-established norm, across a range of legal settings, used to denote an absence of discretion on an official’s part. It leaves no room for quibbles by the secretary.

“The distinction between discretionary and mandatory action actually originates from Marbury v. Madison, the fountainhead of U.S. constitutional law. In that case, Chief Justice John Marshall explained that Secretary of State James Madison had no discretion to refuse to deliver judicial appointee William Marbury’s commission, which the law specified he “shall make out and record, and shall affix.” (Famously, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction to provide a remedy, establishing the vaunted constitutional power of judicial review.)

The straightforwardness of the command in §6103(f) is clear from the neighboring section, §6103(i), employed by prosecutors to inspect tax records, which “shall be open” to inspection or disclosure based on an ex parte order from the court. The practice is entirely routine and swift, usually taking less than a week. I know of no attempt by the secretary of treasury ever even to argue discretion not to comply.

Similarly, there is not a single case suggesting that the secretary has discretion not to comply with such a written request by the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Some scholars have opined that the request should demonstrate that Congress is pursuing a legitimate oversight objective, rather than, say, just engaging in political harassment. The law does not provide for even this much, however; in any event, it would be easily satisfied by a request for the president’s taxes given the valid legislative concerns about the possible implications of Trump’s financial entanglements.

Evidently, Richard Neal is unaware of this difference between discretionary and mandatory action. But the fact that we are at the end of February and we still don’t know if we will see Trump’s tax returns this year-based on Neal’s quibbles-is simply stunning.

While the Democrats continue to hand wring about overreaching it’s pretty clear after two months the real danger is that they wildly underreach.

There is some good news-Elijah Cummings’ Oversight Committee has Michael Cohen coming in for public testimony next week.

If the MSM reports that Mueller is closing up shop next week are true-the Dems will have no more excuses for all the skittishness and tiptoeing around all gingerly about it. Eric Swalwell still apparently wants to run for POTUS-despite the fact that Kamala Harris already has major California Democrat endorsements-like Ted Lieu.

If Swalwell is smart he will publicly campaign to get more aggressive with Trump-don’t know if he has it in him though. All I know is that if the Democrats intend to let Trump off the hook here they can forget about 2020 as far as I’m concerned-the last thing I want to hear about is ‘Ok lets’ just impeach him at the ballot box.’

No-he must be held accountable. He did not ‘win’ the Office legitimately, he stole his Office. Simply beating him without impeaching legitimizes his first four years. If the Democrats do that I’m truly done.

Next week should be pretty interesting.

I do think the one thing that gives you hope is the point Marcy Wheeler made that Barr and Mueller are very close. Of course, if this is true, then Trump misfired again as the whole reason for replacing Sessions with Barr was to get someone in there to protect him from the Mueller investigation.’

UPDATE: Wow so a lot to unpack in light of subsequent events. Certainly whatever the relationship between Barr and Mueller it didn’t seem to restrain Barr from outrageous lies and dissembling when he offered up the fake exoneration letter a month later on March 24. He also had no problem handwaving away Mueller’s own subsequent concerns about how he’d misrepresented his work.

Neal continued at his glacial pace for months-he waited until April to even ask for the returns and July to even put forward a lawsuit after it had been abundantly clear for months that Steven Mnuchin had no problem ignoring the law in the service of protecting this fake ‘President.’

OTOH he wants to keep his job on the other he’s a GOP partisan hack as well as someone who foreclosed a home over $25 bucks.

The Dems have, however, thankfully opened an impeachment inquiry now. I argued in Chapter A though should not try to be done quickly but quite the opposite-impeach him 11 days before the election AKA the Comey letter. This shouldn’t be hard as there are so many legitimately impeachable offenses worth investigating in depth including the Trump campaign’s collusion with the rogue anti Clinton pro Trump FBI agents.

 

 

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