May 10 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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David Leonhardt: Donald Trump Is Lying Again, Now About James Comey

The president of the United States is lying again.

He is lying about the reason he fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director. Trump claimed that he was doing so because Comey bungled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email, which meant that Comey was “not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

There is no reason to believe Trump’s version of the facts and many reasons to believe he is lying. How can I be so confident?

First, it’s important to remember just how often Trump lies. Virtually whenever he finds it more convenient to tell a falsehood than to tell a truth, he chooses the falsehood.

Eugene Robinson: Firing Comey is a thuggish abuse of executive power

Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey has to be the most thuggish, venal act committed by a U.S. president since Richard Nixon’s desperate Saturday Night Massacre. Trump is trying to shut down the investigation with the most potential to cripple — or perhaps even end — his presidency. He is attempting a power play straight from the playbook of some tinhorn dictator, and he believes he will get away with it.

The claim that Comey’s mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails is the reason for his dismissal insults the nation’s intelligence. During last year’s campaign, you will recall, Trump loudly cheered the damaging disclosures about his opponent that he now cites as cause for immediate termination. Just last week, the president tweeted that “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!” Trump and his angry crowds brayed for Clinton to be locked up, not treated fairly.

David Ignatius: The Comey debacle only magnifies the Russia mystery

President Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James B. Comey will intensify focus on the issue Trump has been so eager to dismiss — his knowledge of contacts between Michael Flynn and other associates and Russia.

White House arguments that Trump sacked Comey for mishandling the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails are implausible, but no more so than some of the arguments the Trump team has made about Flynn’s firing in February. Sources say the White House has been talking about firing Comey since before the inauguration; why they pulled the trigger now is unclear, but FBI agents, including those who dislike Comey, were said to be dazed and upset Tuesday night.

The Comey putsch heightens the mystery at the center of the Flynn case: Why Trump didn’t react sooner to warnings about Flynn’s involvement with Russia. Why didn’t Trump listen to President Barack Obama’s caution against hiring him? Why did Trump wait 18 days before removing his national security adviser after urgent advice that Flynn could be “blackmailed”?

Lawrence Douglas: By firing James Comey, Trump is continuing the work Putin started

A brazen attack on the rule of law. There is no other way to describe Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey. Recalling the dismissal of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Democratic senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania rightly called the act “Nixonian”. But it is more than that.

Russia’s criminal interference in our presidential election represents one of the great scandals in our history. Whether there was actual collusion between the Russians and members of Trump’s election team is, at present, impossible to say.

We do know that the FBI had sufficient concerns to launch a probe. We know that the man named by then president-elect Trump to serve as his national security adviser , Michael Flynn, apparently sought to assure the Russians that they would suffer no adverse consequences as a result of their attack on our democracy.

Whether Flynn acted on his own renegade initiative or at the behest of Trump is just one of the many questions that remain unanswered. And these are the questions that Trump now hopes will never be answered.

Richard Wolffe: Swap ‘Clinton’ for ‘Trump’ to see just how bad the Flynn scandal is

Let’s play a game, shall we?

Let’s pretend that Hillary Clinton, who won almost 3 million votes more than Donald Trump, also won the presidency in the electoral college. And let’s pretend that President Clinton, once installed in the White House, was facing a hostile Republican-controlled Congress.

The Clinton transition was a messy affair, to say the least. Her national security adviser was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation into his secret contacts with the Chinese ambassador, as well as payments from Chinese state-run companies. That adviser also kept secret that he was a paid foreign agent of another strongman leader – let’s say, the Egyptian president. Oh, and he lied to Vice-President Tim Kaine about his Chinese connections.