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The Trump Administration: Restoring Integritude to the White House

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On the plus side, the FBI rejected the request. On the massively minus side, the White House violated long-standing restrictions designed to protect ongoing investigations.

The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.

But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14.

It gets better:

The White House initially disputed that account, saying that McCabe called Priebus early that morning and said The New York Times story vastly overstates what the FBI knows about the contacts. But a White House official later corrected their version of events to confirm what the law enforcement official described. The same White House official said that Priebus later reached out again to McCabe and to FBI Director James Comey asking for the FBI to at least talk to reporters on background to dispute the stories. A law enforcement official says McCabe didn’t discuss aspects of the case but wouldn’t say exactly what McCabe told Priebus

No, of course we don’t need to worry about the ghost of Richard Nixon haunting the White House. Why would you ask?

Extra special bonus: listen to Deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka make an unhinged phone call to Michael S. Smith II (via Pejman Yousefzadeh). Really, listen to all twenty-some minutes. It isn’t just that Gorka’s an unqualified hack and a charlatan, it’s also his pseudo-academic bluster. Gorka sounds like someone trying really, really hard to come across as a Deep Thinker™️ and scholar in an attempt an intellectual dominance. He fails.

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  • ΧΤΠΔ

    We’re all pinning our hopes on James Comey prizing his VSP reputation for Nonpartisan Integritude (per Adam Silverman) above his desire to turn us into RULL ‘MURKA.

    Also, would a pony be too much to ask?

    • David Chop

      I get that Comey bashing is all in good fun around here, but here’s the thing: He’s our best shot at getting a real accounting of whatever hanky-panky actually did occur.

      The day before Trump was sworn in I went to a retirement party for a Justice Department official. (Timing not coincidental.) Anyway, at one point I was standing with a group that had at least 2 testified before the Judiciary Committee to get their jobs folks in it and the subject of Comey came up. Two things I took away from that conversation; One, people in Justice were furious at him about the investigation re-opened press conference shenanigans. Seriously. Not tut-tut send a strongly worded email furious, but gritted teeth pulsing veins on the forehead furious. Two, they still think he’s a Boy Scout. It was literally said, “He’s a Boy Scout and if Trump had done anything he’ll go after him.”

      Admittedly anecdotal, but I really really want a pony.

      • humanoid.panda

        Did you see the Vanity Fair story about the mess? It supports my hunch regarding Comey: combine a stick up his ass, fear of what the republicans will say, concern about leaks that will make him look bad with the in-built conservative bent of the FBI, and you get the Comey letter, without needing to go down the “he plotted to throw the election to Trump or maybe was Russian spy” route.
        It’s kinda like structural racism: you don’t need people to be a bunch of Bull Connors for policing to be grossly racist.

        • jeer9

          And nobody seriously thought Trump could win, not after all the shit he’d stepped in of his own making.

          If Hillary wins as expected, Comey appears an intervening asshole to lots of people who didn’t like him to begin with – but one who’s now openly unintimidated by the incoming president. If he is then removed from his position for the unethical conduct, he still remains in the good graces of the group about whom he is most concerned and who would defend his actions most vociferously, arguing that his dismissal was pure politics.

          It’s a win/win for him: fearless investigator of the corrupt presumptive C-in-C, an intrepid seeker of the truth who views himself as unaffected by powerful pressures and, in the worst case scenario, the victim of a shameless firing at the behest of history’s most vengeful harridan.

          Except the worst case scenario hasn’t worked out the way he thought – and now, after ignoring the facts for months, he has to delve through Trump’s Russian connections (which are clearly darker and more worrisome than the EMAILZ! ever were), his efforts being compromised by the administration and closely watched by the entire intelligence community. What’s a Boy Scout to do?

          I suspect Comey hopes events beyond his control out the perpetrators and he gets to play his favorite, if delusional, role as impartial observer confirming what we’ve “known” all along. A tattered reputation gets run through the wash and a few stains (not the large one) get removed. There’s little chance he wants to be the driving force and put his fellow Republicans on the spot, demanding that they act upon evidence of treason. Placing country above party and careerism is not a badge he’s ever planned on earning.

          • TBH, I expect that if the shitgibbon had lost the election, Obama would have fired Comey for cause on Nov. 9. I suspect you’re probably right on the rest, though.

      • I get that Comey bashing is all in good fun around here, but here’s the thing: He’s our best shot at getting a real accounting of whatever hanky-panky actually did occur.

        If Comey is our best shot, then might as well put the gun back on the shelf for another day.

    • I’m old enough to remember when Bill Clinton scandalously met with Loretta Lynch and the country almost ran out of fainting couches…

  • DrDick

    You malign Nixon by this comparison. He was at least marginally competent in his malevolence. The Trumpsters are thoroughly incompetently malevolent.

    • JBC31187

      I’d like to think that if Nixon was haunting the White House, he’d torture Trump endlessly. If only out of sheer rage that this fucking buffoon succeeded where Nixon failed.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        if Nixon was haunting the White House

        Perhaps that explains why Trump sleeps in the White House so rarely.

    • efgoldman

      He was at least marginally competent in his malevolence. The Trumpsters are thoroughly incompetently malevolent.

      Tricksie Dicksie Nixie’s problem was he was actually a way-beyond-competent career politician. Plus he was dealing with Dem majorities, so actual legislative work was being done.

      • howard

        it’s not often remembered that the heart of the watergate coverup was the need to hide the fact that the watergate break-in was committed by people directly tied to nixon’s tasked-out-of-the-oval-office black ops group, the plumbers, and their funding.

        but the reason that nixon and kissinger were so paranoid about leaks from day one (which is why the plumbers came to be) is that they actually had a bold conceptual break-through in mind that could very easily have been torpedoed, namely the strategic opening to china.

        so that even nixon’s worst crime (as distinct from his paranoid and twisted personality and its various manifestations) was ultimately rooted in a good policy move.

      • Captain Oblivious

        Also, too, Nixon was a skilled poker player and negotiator.

        Trump is just a bullshitter.

        • Right. I’m not one of those who fetishises Nixon’s time in the White House – I’m fully cognizant of the myriad number of ways in which he was a truly horrible person with mostly horrible policies. I’d still give a pretty substantial amount of money to replace the shitgibbon with him, though.

          • efgoldman

            Nixon was a nasty piece of work politically from the start (Google “Helen Gahegan Douglas”). I forget which, but he sat either on HUAC or the senate equivalent. He certainly didn’t need anything the break in might have found – in ’72 he would have won going away anyway.

            But the coverup….

            • Yeah, he was always horrible (although someone said a few days ago that he pondered the idea of running on a pro-civil rights platform in 1960. That would make for an interesting alternate history novel). I’d still rather have him in charge, because the odds that the country and planet would still be intact after his presidency would be much greater than they are for the Shitgibbon Administration.

              • Mellano

                One of the fascinating threads of Master of the Senate is how the Civil Rights Bill of 1957 was in large part a Nixon-backed effort to win over black voters in advance of the 1960 election.

                LBJ cynically co-opted credit for the bill — but only after blocking efforts by pro-civil rights Senators to amend procedural rules that would have reduced the filibuster threshold. At that point the only legislation that could pass lacked the major DOJ enforcement provisions and gave anyone facing criminal contempt charges a right to a jury trial (i.e., white jurors rather than federal judges effectively had veto power over enforcing court orders). When this mostly toothless legislation passed over a rearguard Southern filibuster, LBJ rather than Nixon got the headlines for negotiating and shepherding it through.

                It really does seem like a potentially fascinating alternate history — conceivably Nixon could have won in 1960 as an Eisenhowerian steady hand, rather than a Southern Strategy-pushing tribune of the Silent Majority. So many moving parts, too — how would Republican administrations have used the presumably stronger civil rights bill? What of Vietnam? And agreed, also, that Nixon was always a nasty piece of work, but I wonder if leading a different political coalition in 1960 would he have taken a similarly self-destructive path as he did in 1968.

          • DrDick

            The bastard drafted me in 1971. There are some things I cannot forgive.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Competence is meaningless when you cheat, lie, steal and kill. Those do take a degree of competence, but also rely on good people doing nothing.

      • AdamPShort

        I wouldn’t say meaningless. It just isn’t good.

  • randy khan

    Laugh/cry – so hard to decide.

    And the FBI wants the Administration to know that only the FBI can decide when to violate longstanding guidelines intended to protect the integrity of its investigations and to avoid undue political impacts.

    • BethRich52

      I need a like button for this comment. Perfect.

  • pillsy

    That recording of Gorka is comedy gold. Or it would be, if this dyspeptic infant wasn’t shaping our terrorism policy.

    • bw

      Sebastian Gorka, Michael Smith, and Pejman Yousefzadeh?

      In a game of Fuck/Marry/Kill/Wedgie, I score that three wedgies.

      (Nothing in particular against Smith – his voice on this call just makes him sound like a pretentious conservative nerd here.)

      • dnexon

        I suspect that’s because he is. He voted from Trump in both the primary *and* the general election.

        Listening to Gorka ‘dick wave’ over television appearances and op-ed writing is really something else: a bad parody of fake markers of expertise.

    • Cheap Wino

      It’s like the perfect distillation of the Trump trainwreck. Incompetence, turbo-charged ego, assholishness, child-like defensiveness, poor communication skills, etc.

      Did Gorka let Smith finish a sentence even once?

  • Dennis Orphen

    Off Topic, but Ed Garvey, a man I gladly cast my vote for against Bob Kasten in 1986 is dead at 76.

    And the march of the morons continues unabated.

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    I have hopes that Trump will be forced to leave via helicopter also, and it will say Trump on its side.

    Yeah, and I’m not getting the pony, either.

    • N__B

      Artist’s rendering here.

  • ForkyMcSpoon

    Gorka’s accent and voice really really remind me of Andrew Sullivan.

    • nasser

      And he somehow manages to be even more obnoxious. He calls himself an expert on fighting jihadists and doesn’t even know arabic. !عيب عليه

  • AdamPShort

    Gorka is indeed a master of the “dumb person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like” school of writing. A beacon for MRA’s and scientific racists everywhere.

  • royko

    …the White House violated long-standing restrictions designed to protect…

    Is there anybody who doesn’t think this will become standard practice in the Trump White House? I don’t just mean in regards to criminal investigations. Campaign finance laws, transparency laws, anti-corruption laws, anything. Hell, would anybody be surprised if Don Jr and Eric were caught hunting bald eagles in the Rose Garden?

    The man with the most slapdash approach to running a business is now running one of the most heavily regulated enterprises anywhere. I don’t see this ending well.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      I don’t see this ending well.

      So you see Trump serving his full 4-year term?

  • leftwingfox
  • howard

    i really, really want to know who the unnamed white house official source was: however incapable the administration’s key players may be at formulating policy and seeing it through, they excel at corporate in-fighting.

  • Sly

    Sam Seder and Michael Brooks riffing on Gorka is a persistent delight.

  • Simple Mind

    Tillerson seems to have been sent packing back the USA from Mexico.

  • I thought it was kind of significant how Gorka thought it was totally rad to show up to the inauguration in full-on Hungarian fascist cosplay, like he was just itching to stomp on some commie Jews. I guess he’s this generation’s Pat Buchanan.

  • Lurks

    “Sebastian Gorka”? Is “sounds like a villain from James Bond” one of Trump’s new hiring criteria? Though if you look at pictures of him, it makes you wonder if he is not just some elaborate ruse by Penn Jillette and we’re just waiting for the punchline:

    https://counterjihadnews.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/evan-davis-and-sebastian-gorka-clash-over-trump-768494.jpg

    http://rdcnewscdn.realtor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Penn-Jillette.jpg

  • However, the NYT tells me this morning that Besy DeVos is a political knife-fighter, so all is good.

    • rea

      Maybe she should borrow some of her brother’s employees to help her deal with these issues.

    • BigHank53

      If the political side doesn’t work out, I’m sure her brother knows a couple guys who can make a rival disappear.

      • Yup. And probably has, too.

        • I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

          (not you personally; the quote just seemed appropriate here)

          • Jeez, you had me sweating there for a minute ;-)

  • Crusty

    Maybe the age of the internets has messed with my attention span, but I feel like the press is dropping the ball on the Russia stuff and the Russia connections, particularly in terms of telling us what investigations are going on, what are they looking at and just piecing things together in terms of Manafort, this new pro-Russia Ukraine/Crimea plan that just dropped in out of nowhere. Seems to me its all there in plain sight but the authorities can’t believe it and the press doesn’t want to seem like they’re I dunno, being mean?

    • howard

      the best defense trump has against any particular outrage is that there are so many, and while it’s rooted in his personality, that doesn’t mean that president bannon isn’t happy to take advantage.

  • BethRich52

    Thanks for the astute portrait of Gorka.

  • NeonTrotsky

    And to think of how much finagling went to avoiding the mere appearance that something like this was going on under the Obama white house during the campaign.

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