Babies are seized from their mothers’ arms. Photographs show their anguish. News reports describe their cages. A recording captures their wailing and a U.S. border official’s cold mockery. A defiant President Trump falsely blames others for the misery he created.
And Republican lawmakers respond as they often have: They hold another hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
But they have run this play too many times before.
.. Just 29 seconds into Tuesday’s hearing on the defeated Democratic 2016 presidential nominee and her emails, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, interrupted to point out that something more important needs attention.
.. “They are children who have been forcibly removed from their parents in our name.”
Republicans on the committee tried to silence Nadler with calls of “order!”
Nadler spoke over them: “The United States should be better than this. We should not put children in cages.”
“Regular order!” called out Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
.. Ah, so it’s “regular order” to have the umpteenth hearing about a now-private citizen’s emails, but you’re “pulling” a stunt if you talk about the Trump policy under which border guards are reportedly telling parents they are taking children “for a bath” and the children never return.
No, Republicans, your “regular order” is out of order.
.. As soon as Gowdy had silenced Nadler, two women in the back of the room, with infants in their laps, began to heckle the lawmakers about the inhumanity of Trump’s family separation policy.
Gowdy slammed the gavel to the dais and demanded that the mothers and babies be removed. (At least the Capitol Police had the good sense not to take the babies from the mothers.) “We will be in recess until the Capitol Police restore order!” Gowdy proclaimed.
But “order” remained elusive.
.. Shortly after the moms and babies were evicted from the room, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, spoke. “Are we really going to sit here, 70 members of the Congress of the United States of America, in 2018, and have a hearing . . . on Hillary Clinton’s emails?”
.. “We should be able to agree that we will not keep kids in child internment camps indefinitely and hidden away from public view. What country is that? This is the United States of America! We now have reports of parents being deported, but the Trump administration is keeping their children here.”
.. Unhappy that Clinton wasn’t charged in 2016 for mishandling her emails, they had demanded an investigation into the original investigation of Clinton. That investigation, conducted by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, last week reported misconduct by some officials but “no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations.”
.. Now Republicans, still unsatisfied, are threatening to investigate the investigation of the investigation of Clinton. Senate Republicans hauled Horowitz in Monday, and House Republicans hauled him in Tuesday, to field questions for seven hours from 70 lawmakers
.. they care more about a scrubbed server than a clean conscience.
The decision to prioritize the Russia investigation ended up harming Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
.. If key members of the FBI were actually biased against Donald Trump, why did the FBI so dramatically damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the last days before the election? Why did it draft a letter to Congress announcing that it was reopening its email investigation a month after it found Anthony Weiner’s laptop, a letter that detonated like a bomb in the campaign and had a measurable effect on Hillary’s polling?.. As the Hillary investigation (“Midyear Exam”) wound down, the Trump investigation (“Crossfire Hurricane”) spun up. Key members of the Midyear team — including employees who expressed deep loathing of Trump — transferred their efforts to the Crossfire investigation. When investigators found hundreds of thousands of potentially relevant emails (including emails between Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton) on Anthony Weiner’s computer, the Crossfire investigators were reluctant to dive back into Midyear, and they let the computer languish — for weeks — until prodded by investigators in New York... Then, confronted with the reality that his agents hadn’t started to examine the emails, Comey’s institutional protective instincts kicked in, and he felt that he had to inform Congress of the new development — to preserve the FBI’s nonpartisan image during the presumed Hillary presidency. Little did he know (little did most people know), the Hillary campaign was a tottering, fragile mess, and this last FBI action may well have pushed her past the tipping point.
.. Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias. [Emphasis added.
.. By that time Comey was in a bind. He believed the email review wouldn’t be completed by the election, he had already informed the world that the email investigation was over, and he also believed that Hillary was going to win.
.. The FBI didn’t stop Hillary from campaigning in key states. It’s the fault of the Democratic party and Democratic primary voters that they foisted a dishonest candidate on the American public, a person whose conduct not only merited an FBI investigation, it merited indictment.
“I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you’ll see that.”
This is false. The Justice Department inspector general on June 14 released a report that found fault with the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The 500-page reportdoesn’t delve into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election or possible collusion with Trump’s campaign, although it does scrutinize anti-Trump text messages sent by several FBI agents.
.. “Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. … I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?
“You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for John McCain, or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something? A very short period of time.”
Manafort, who was sent to jail June 15 for violating bail conditions, worked on Trump’s presidential campaign for 144 days in 2016, 92 of them as its chairman. He was an instrumental figure.
“I feel badly for General Flynn. He’s lost his house. He’s lost his life. And some people say he lied, and some people say he didn’t lie. I mean, really, it turned out maybe he didn’t lie. So how can you do that?”
Trump has said repeatedly that he dismissed Michael Flynn for lying. The president asked for the resignation of his first national security adviser and accepted it Feb. 13, 2017. Days later, in a news conference Feb. 16, 2017, Trump said he had fired Flynn for providing incomplete information to Vice President Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. In December 2017, the president tweeted, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Kislyak.
“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”
This is false. As part of its border crackdown, the Trump administration is separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents largely due to a “zero tolerance” policy implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. No law requires these separations. The government must release rather than detain immigrant children under a 1997 federal consent decree and a bipartisan human-trafficking law from 2008. But neither of these requires family separations.
“Barack Obama, I think you will admit this, he said the biggest problem that the United States has, and by far the most dangerous problem … is North Korea. Now, that was shortly before I entered office. I have solved that problem. Now, we’re getting it memorialized and all, but that problem is largely solved, and part of the reason is we signed, number one, a very good document. But you know what? More importantly than the document — more importantly than the document, I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
Trump’s denuclearization agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is light on details and its success or failure will depend on difficult negotiations still ahead. It’s far too early to say he’s “solved” the problem posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Trump points to the “very good document” he signed, but its language is weaker than in previous agreements negotiated by the United States, which North Korea later broke.
Comey’s memoir shows he is more like Trump than he cares to admit.
But Mr. Trump told an interviewer that he had fired Mr. Comey because the FBI chief wouldn’t say publicly that the FBI wasn’t investigating Mr. Trump. The President also threatened Mr. Comey with a false claim about Oval Office “tapes.” Mr. Comey responded by leaking documents that caused Mr. Rosenstein to name a special counsel, which has put Mr. Trump’s Presidency in mortal peril.
.. The main lesson from Mr. Comey’s book is that Mr. Trump’s abuse of political norms has driven his enemies to violate norms themselves.
.. The most notable fact in the book is how little we learn that is new about Mr. Trump.
.. Mr. Trump is preoccupied with his critics and the validation of his presidential victory. He is clueless that his bullying and flattery would repel Mr. Comey
.. The book mainly adds Mr. Comey’s moral and aesthetic contempt for Mr. Trump.
.. Mr. Comey’s comparison of Mr. Trump to a “mafia” boss is hilariously overstated. Don’t they call it “organized” crime? And what about that code of silence known as omerta? The Trump White House can’t keep anything secret.
.. Mr. Comey reveals in his excessive self-regard that he is more like Mr. Trump than he cares to admit. Mr. Trump’s narcissism is crude and focused on his personal “winning.” Mr. Comey’s is about vindicating his own higher morality and righteous belief.
.. He accuses Mr. Rosenstein of acting “dishonorably” by writing the memo describing how Mr. Comey mishandled the Clinton probe. Yet he barely engages Mr. Rosenstein’s arguments, which quoted from former Justice officials of both parties. Mr. Rosenstein wrote that Mr. Comey was “wrong to usurp” the authority of Attorney General Loretta Lynch and wrong to “hold press conferences to release derogatory information” about Mrs. Clinton.
That mistake made Mr. Comey feel obliged to intervene again in late October—this time to announce the reopening of the probe in a way that helped Mr. Trump. Had Mr. Comey followed Justice protocol in July, he would not have had to make himself the issue in October, damaging the reputation of the FBI and Justice in the bargain.
.. This has been the habit across Mr. Comey’s career, though you’ll find no mention in his memoir of Steven Hatfill, the government scientist he wrongly pursued for years as the anthrax terrorist; or Frank Quattrone, the Wall Street financier he prosecuted twice for obstruction of justice only to be rebuked by an appeals court; or Judith Miller’s recantation of her testimony against Scooter Libby.
Mr. Comey has also had little to say so far about the controversy over the Steele dossier and his handling of the Russian investigation of Mr. Trump. Did he know that the dossier was commissioned by Democrats for the Clinton campaign? He also has nothing to say about the dismissal of his former FBI deputy, Andrew McCabe, for “lack of candor.”
Mr. Comey is getting his moment of revenge as much of the press revels in the attacks on Mr. Trump. Yet his career, reinforced by his memoir, is a case study in the perils of the righteous prosecutor. It also shows why Mr. Comey’s view of the FBI as “independent” of supervisory authority is wrong and dangerous. A presidential bully who abuses power needs to be checked, but so does an FBI director who turns righteousness into zealotry.