Posts tagged with "Former FBI Director James Comey"

Judge dismisses Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton

September 12, 2022

A federal judge in Florida has dismissed a sprawling lawsuit filed by former President Donald Trump earlier this year—calling the former president’s complaint a “political manifesto” rather than a viable lawsuit, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The suit had alleged that Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats illegally linked Trump to Russia.

In a written order issued late on Thursday, September 8, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks in West Palm Beach, Florida, said Trump’s various legal theories in the case, including racketeering and conspiracy, “are not only unsupported by any legal authority but plainly foreclosed by binding precedent.”

“Mr. Trump “is not attempting to seek redress for any legal harm; instead, he is seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him, and this Court is not the appropriate forum,” Judge Middlebrooks wrote.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said the former president’s team would immediately appeal the decision.

“We vehemently disagree with the opinion issued by the Court today. Not only is it rife with erroneous applications of the law; it disregards the numerous independent governmental investigations which substantiate our claim that the defendants conspired to falsely implicate our client and undermine the 2016 Presidential election,” she said in a statement.

Trump’s lawsuit, originally filed in March, alleged that Democrats tried to rig the 2016 presidential election by accusing him of colluding with Russia. The lawsuit sought compensatory and punitive damages of at least $24 million, asserting that Trump was “forced to incur expenses” including “defense costs, legal fees, and related expenses.”

The defendants in Trump’s lawsuit included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, the author dossier leaked in early 2017 claiming that then-President-elect Trump had conspired with Russia to steer the U.S. election.

“In the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton and her cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot—one that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation’s democracy,” the complaint says. “Acting in concert, the Defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty.”

Clinton’s lawyers called the lawsuit a fundraising ploy.

“Whatever the utility of Plaintiff’s Complaint as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit, and should be dismissed with prejudice,” Clinton’s lawyers said in a May court filing.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found repeated contacts between Russia-linked entities and Trump campaign officials before the election, but did not establish that anyone affiliated with his campaign knowingly conspired with Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign.

Research contact: @WSJ

Trump committed ‘serious’ crime, if found to have used IRS as weapon, says Lawrence Tribe

July 11, 2022

A top legal expert has suggested it is “no coincidence” that former  FBI  Director  James Comey  and former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe—both of whom were both fired by former President Donald Trump—were selected for a rare and intensive audit by the Internal Revenue Service, reports Newsweek.

Comey and McCabe both were subjected to random tax audits in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

However, as noted by The New York Times, the odds of being selected for the audit is around one in 30,600, raising questions on the likelihood that two high-ranking FBI officials who were previously fired by Trump, and that the former wanted to prosecute, both happened to be chosen.

Responding to the news, Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of Constitutional Law at Harvard University, dismissed the idea that both men were randomly selected and implied that Trump may have been using the IRS as a weapon against his foes.

“This kind of political targeting is a serious federal crime. No coincidence, for sure. Odds are 30,000 to 1,” Tribe tweeted.

Joe Scarborough, the co-host of  Morning Joe on MSNBC, who previously worked as an attorney, also suggested: “Did Trump use IRS to target Comey and McCabe? Looks like it.”

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who was appointed by Trump in 2018, declined to comment. The agency later said he had no role in selecting those subjected to the intensive audit.

 “As IRS commissioner, he has never been in contact with the White House — in either administration—on IRS enforcement or individual taxpayer matters,” the statement said. “He has been committed to running the IRS. in an impartial, unbiased manner from top to bottom.”

“It just defies logic to think that there wasn’t some other factor involved,” McCabe told CNN. “I think that’s a reasonable question. I think it should be investigated. People need to be able to trust the institutions of government and so that’s why there should be some… we should dig through this and find out what happened.”

In a statement, Comey added: “I don’t know whether anything improper happened, but after learning how unusual this audit was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me during that time, it made sense to try to figure it out.

“Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe somebody misused the IRS to get at a political enemy. Given the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question.”

When asked about the audits, Trump, via a spokesperson, told the Times: “I have no knowledge of this.” Trump has been contacted for further comment.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Behind Barr: Trump announces choice for attorney general

December 10, 2018

During a week when former President George H.W. Bush’s legacy has been validated and his choices lauded, President Donald Trump confirmed that he will nominate former Attorney General William P. Barr—who served in same role in the Bush administration from 1991 to 1993— to lead the Justice Department again, telling reporters on December 7 that Barr was “my first choice since day one.”

Barr is, perhaps, best known for successfully urging the elder Bush in 2001 to pardon a number of key figures involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He also has been critical of the Mueller investigation—perhaps explaining why Trump is so enamored of this candidate.

According to a December 7 report by The Washington Post, “Barr is likely to face tough questions at his confirmation hearing about how he will handle the ongoing special counsel investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

Assuming that the nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Barr would replace Acting AG Matthew Whittaker, whom Trump elevated to that role after requesting the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions early in November.

That move—which leapfrogged the DOJ professional who actually was next in line for the job, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—has been widely criticized on the grounds that Whittaker is not qualified; is under investigation, himself; and has said that the president “made the right call” when he fired FBI Director James Comey.

In another round of musical chairs in the administration, Chief of Staff John Kelly was reportedly expected to resign on Friday night, December 7. Kelly had worn out his welcome with the POTUS, who stopped talking to him in recent days in hopes that we would take the hint and depart the White House.

Finally, Trump also has said, according to The Washington Post, that he will nominate Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, describing the State Department spokesperson, a relative novice on foreign policy, as “very talented, very smart, very quick.” Haley announced her pending resignation in October.

Research contact: matt.zapotosky@washpost.com

Following in the steps of Richard Nixon, Trump releases an enemies list

August 17, 2018

President Richard Nixon had his “enemies list”—released as a confidential memorandum on August 16, 1971. And now, 41 years later, nearly to the day, President Donald Trump has distributed a statement with a similar list of his own—revoking the security clearances of those who have spoken out against him, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reported on Wednesday night.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at a White House briefing on August 15 that the POTUS had revoked the security clearance of John Brennan, the former C.I.A. director under President Barack Obama, as well as the clearances of several other detractors.

Citing what he called Brennan’s “erratic” behavior and “increasingly frenzied commentary,” Trump said that Brennan had abused his access to the United States’ secrets “to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations.”

In the same statement, the president listed others whose clearances had been cancelled as a result of their negative assessments of Trump administration policies and actions. The others on the list include: former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates; former F.B.I. Director James Comey; former F.B.I. Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former F.B.I. Counterintelligence Agent Peter Strzok

The New York Times characterized the move as “a striking act of retaliation against an outspoken critic.” adding that the president threatened to do the same to other former national security officials who have antagonized him.

As the Times noted, the statement came only a few weeks after Sanders warned that Trump was considering revoking the clearances of Brennan and others whom he believed had politicized and inappropriately profited from their access to confidential information.

“It was the latest assault by a president who has routinely questioned the loyalties of national security officials and dismissed some of their findings-particularly the conclusion that Moscow intervened in the 2016 election — as attacks against him, the news outlet reported..

In an interview later Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal, the president argued that his list of potential targets for having security clearances revoked was not confined to his political opponents, saying that he “would put a Republican on, too, if I thought they were incompetent or crazy.”

The revocation of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance also appeared to be a way to change the subject from damaging accusations in a tell-all book, Unhinged, by Omarosa Manigault Newman,  who had appeared on Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice, and who had worked in the White House until last December. Manigault Newman now claims that Mr. Trump used a slur to disparage African-Americans and is in a state of mental decline.

Trump’s decision drew a swift response from Brennan. “This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics,” Brennan wrote on Twitter, adding that he would not relent. “It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out.”

As of August 16, the president’s approval rating remained at 39%, according to the Gallup poll.

 Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

Trump’s Twitter rage promotes Comey’s book

April 16, 2018

With enemies like this, who needs friends? President Donald Trump angrily counter-punched at James Comey on Twitter on April 13—catapulting the former FBI director’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, onto best-seller lists even before its April 17 release date, through pre-orders.

In a two-part tweet, Trump labeled Comey as a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” and an “untruthful slime ball” who botched his handling of “the Crooked Hillary Clinton case,” and added: “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

Indeed, according to a Washington Post opinion piece by Greg Sargent, “Everyone is remarking on how Trump appears to be emotionally melting down now that news organizations are widely covering Comey’s new book.”

What’s more, the American people are not behind him. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on April 13 determined that 69% of Americans support Mueller’s efforts to investigate possible Russia-Trump campaign collusion, and 64% support Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s business activities, which, you may recall, Trump declared as a red line that Mueller mustn’t cross. It even finds that 58 percent support the investigation of hush money paid to women who alleged affairs.

What about public attitudes toward Comey? Well, the poll finds that Americans see Comey as more believable than Trump by 48-32 and disapprove of Trump’s firing of Comey by 47-33.

And, according to Sargent, “Trump appears to be making an actual argument underneath all the all-caps bluster that should not go unnoticed. He is suggesting that he retrospectively relishes having fired one of the nation’s chief law enforcement officials, at least in part because he did not prosecute his political opponent [Clinton].”

The original fake pretext that Trump used to fire Comey was enshrined in a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Sargent says, which recounted that Comey had mishandled the Clinton email probe in a way that was unfair to her. By contrast, Trump’s Twitter version of events highlights that Clinton is “crooked,” apparently meaning Comey mishandled the Clinton case by not prosecuting her alleged criminality.

According to the Post’s The Plum Line columnist, the poll represents a major public vote of confidence in the investigation — and a repudiation of Trump’s delegitimization of it as a mere “witch hunt.”

He concludes, “It’s tempting to see this polling as little more than a reflection of Trump’s deep unpopularity. But numbers this stark suggest something else may be going on: that the depth of Trump’s contempt for our institutions and the rule of law is becoming clear to the public, and Americans are recoiling at it.”

Research contact: @theplumlinegs