“This site is dedicated to preying on peoples vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Obama just keep getting better and better, y’all. How do we know?

Michelle And Barack Obama Are Living Their Best Lives As Tourists In Italy

Nailed it, per usual.

Michelle Obama’s vacation style just keeps getting better and better. 
The former first lady looked effortlessly casual and cool while walking around Montalcino, Italy over the weekend. 
Obama chose a $397 one-shoulder pink-and-white striped top from Teija with frayed white jeans that cut off at the ankle and white sandals. She accessorized with hoop earrings, black sunglasses, bracelets and a white cross-body purse. 

Toscana Photos/BACKGRID USA
Michelle Obama pictured exploring in Montalcino, Italy 

She’s truly living her best life: 

Former president Barack Obama gave a talk on climate change earlier this month and it appears the Obamas made the work trip into a vacation. The two are reportedly staying at the incredible Borgo Finocchieto villa in the Tuscan countryside.

Barack Obama is clearly loving his time in Italy, as he’s transformed into a rock star and played a few rounds of golf:  

Pier Marco Tacca via Getty Images
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit on May 9 in Milan, Italy.

After Obama left office in January, the couple has traveled all around the globe. They’ve made stops in Palm Springs, the British Virgin Islands, an island in the South Pacific and even enjoyed a little yachting with their famous friends. 
While many people have lamented the Obamas’ absence during this turbulent time, Michelle promised the two would be back soon during a recent appearance in Washington, D.C. 

“We’re not gone, we’re just breathing, y’all. Let us breathe,” Obama said, per People magazine. “We’ve got to get our new lives set up.” 

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump Receives Warm Reception in Israel

OPINION: Trump gets it right in Saudi Arabia

For all the sound and fury over his public remarks and tweets in Washington, President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia has been a very different story. The president gave the right speech in the right place at the right time. There will still be critics on issues like human rights and Yemen, but the president had a different focus — and almost certainly the right one.

First, he needed to reassure the Saudis, the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the other leaders of the 50 some Islamic countries meeting in the Kingdom that he was not anti-Islamic and did not see Islam as an enemy. He did just that — and in ways far more suited to the culture of his audience than the take-no-prisoners rhetoric he often employs in the U.S.

The first three paragraphs of his speech thanked his hosts, and talked about “the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens.” He mentioned the meeting between President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz, and then went on to “extend my deep and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the distinguished heads of state who made this journey here today. You greatly honor us with your presence, and I send the warmest regards from my country to yours. I know that our time together will bring many blessings to both your people and mine.”

He then went on to say that he stood before them “as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.” Courtesy and respect don’t make headlines, but they do make friends and strategic partners. They are particularly critical in the Arab world, and particularly important when the speaker sometimes treated all of Islam as an enemy during his campaign and implied that Islam itself might be hostile and extremist.

The president then went on to make it clear that America’s search for strategic partners meant strengthening America’s oldest friendships, which include several Arab states. He promised that “America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust…Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.”

He then stated his respect for Arab history and culture, the need for economic progress, and noted that “Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones — including soaring achievements in architecture.” He mentioned the positive character of one strategic partner after another — reinforcing the importance of the U.S. strategic partnership with that country in the process.

When it came to the core of his speech — the fight against terrorism — the president’s choice in words really mattered. He avoided phrases like “Islamic extremism,” but repeatedly made it clear that the U.S. would focus on the threats posed by “terrorists and extremists.” He carefully avoided the financial aspects of burden sharing — something all too necessary in a Saudi Arabia spending something like three times the percent of its GDP on defense as the U.S. and nearly six times the percentage of the average NATO ally.

But, he was perfectly clear about what he expected from the countries present when he said, “There can be no coexistence with this violence. There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it...America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security...But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.”

He went on and said, “A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive them out. Drive them of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth...That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires...It means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians….Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear...And political leaders must speak out to affirm the same idea: heroes don’t kill innocents. They save them.”

These are strong messages, but they are also ones that resonate throughout the Islamic world, and for the reasons the president also stated in his speech, “The deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence…Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.”

He pointed to “a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions…The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.”
These are words that the vast majority of Muslims agree with, and ones that clearly rise above fear, prejudice, and isolationism. They are the values Muslims want in a strategic partner. They do not compromise any aspect of the fight against extremism and terrorism.

President Trump was also careful to emphasize the threat from the Iranian government as another core aspect of the U.S. strategic partnership with the Arab world, but he also focused on the Iranian government and not the Iranian people, many of whom clearly do not support its extremism. He called Iran “a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room…Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes.”

Many press reports will focus on some $110 billion in arms sales, and the fact that the president not only implied the U.S. would back away from efforts to change Saudi Arabia, but would remain committed to Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey, and a successful outcome in Yemen. The president also touched on trade and investment, and Saudi Arabia’s 2030 plan for reform.

At the same time, he did not dodge the issue of Israel and the need for broad religious tolerance. He said, “For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again, and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope...If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible, including peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

One speech cannot change Arab or Muslim perceptions of the president or the U.S. as an ally. Much will depend on the years and actions that follow. Words really matter, however, and especially in the Middle East. This time, the president used the right words to start rebuilding the foundations of America’s strategic partnerships in the Muslim world and Middle East, and to deal with truly urgent threats. This speech is the right beginning — in remarkably well crafted terms — and it deserves bipartisan and expert respect.
Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Don't Expect Candor from James Comey - It's Not in His DNA

Comey Is More Of A Politician Than Investigator. His Actions, Meddling in The International Political Affairs of The US President, Was a Political Interference With Grave Geo-Political Consequences 

Think Not, View On:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

It's Time for Trump to Give the Democrats Their Due - Turn the DOJ Loose on Hillary Clinton & Susan Rice

It's past time for Trump to grow a pair, forget nice and go after Hillary Clinton, hammer and tong.

"This country doesn't punish its political enemies." Jeff Sessions, at his confirmation hearing.

That was then. This is now. There will be no peace for Trump until he strikes back and draws blood. Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice will make a great start.


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says he’s still overseeing an investigation into allegations that former national security adviser Susan Rice pushed for certain U.S. citizens to be identified in intelligence reports.
Nunes told Fox News on Friday that he remains "very concerned" about accusations that Rice asked for the identities of certain U.S. citizens incidentally surveilled by intelligence agencies to be "unmasked" in reports delivered to her.
Nunes defended his role in the investigation into Rice's actions as separate from his recusal on the House's investigation into Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential election. 
“I’m still read into everything,” Nunes said. “What I’ve done, because I thought it was appropriate, as long as there’s going to be these bogus charges against me, until that got cleared up, I was just going to set the Russia investigation aside.”

“But everything else, I’m still in charge of,” Nunes continued, “especially the unmasking.”
Rice came under scrutiny from Republicans after reports that she asked for the normally-hidden identities of U.S. citizens alleged to be connected to President Trump's campaign be unmasked.
Rice maintained that she did not act inappropriately, saying the unmasking requests were “not uncommon” and “absolutely not for any political purpose, to spy, expose, anything."
Nunes said Friday that the committee’s investigation into the unmasking is “just beginning.”
“I remain very concerned about it,” Nunes said. “We’re going to have to have some major changes to federal law as it relates to how intelligence is collected and who can unmask that intelligence.”
Nunes recused himself from the committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election last month amid a House ethics probe into whether he divulged classified information. Earlier this week, questions were raised about Nunes' apparent ongoing role in the investigation.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Victor David Hanson on The US Media - Democratic - Progressive - Dirty Cop Comey - Lie about Trump and the Russians

Severed Heads

President Trump’s firing of James Comey revealed strange timing, herky-jerky methods, and bad political optics.

Certainly, in the existential political war that Trump finds himself in, it would have been wiser, first, to have rallied his entire White House team and congressional leaders around the decision and established a shared narrative, to have been magnanimous to the departing James Comey, and to have had obtained private guarantees from a preselected successor that he or she would serve and be appointed within a day or two.

But otherwise the firing was overdue.

The head of the FBI (quite outside his purview as an investigatory official) announced in summer 2016 to the nation that he had decided not to seek an indictment of Hillary Clinton. Then, again in the role of a presumed federal attorney, he seemed to reverse that judgment by reopening his investigation. Then heappeared to re-reverse that decision — all at the height of a heated presidential campaign.

Throughout such a bizarre sequence, Comey stuck to a (flawed) exegesis about the nature of federal statutes in question (intent is not a mitigating circumstance in the felonious insecure transmission of classified federal documents).
Comey de facto had assumed yet another new role in addition to his newfound claims to be both an investigator and a prosecuting federal attorney — that of legislator and judge.

Last summer, the many-headed Comey apparently believed that he would face no consequences for his moth-to-the flame desire for public showmanship — given the widely shared belief that Hillary Clinton was going to be president and that Loretta Lynch would probably continue on as attorney general. (Lynch met privately with Bill Clinton on the tarmac five days before Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview, and, around the same time, Clinton allies said that Hillary was considering retaining Lynch as the attorney general.)

In Comey’s case, in his public and congressional statements, he repeatedly emphasized that he was conducting an ongoing investigation of possible “collusion” between Putin and those who surrounded Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Yet at the same time, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had casually exonerated Trump from just those charges of collaborating with the Russians. Comey may have confirmed that in private to some senators.

In contrast, in the past, Comey had foolishly put some currency in an unsourced and unverified but tawdry and soon-leaked Fusion GPS dossier of supposed Trump sexual antics in Moscow — fake news stories generated, as Comey should have known, by opposition researchers funded first by Republican Never Trump operatives and then by the hit teams of the Clinton campaign.

Yet Comey was uncharacteristically quiet about ongoing disclosures that members of the Obama administration had unmasked names of people surveilled by intelligence agencies. At best, if true, the administration unduly revealed identities and then leaked them to the press; and at worst, it deliberately reverse-targeted political opponents, on the pretext that normal monitoring of Russian officials had, mirabile dictu, caught up Trump associates. Either way, it illegally leaked classified material.

Comey probably understood that keeping silent about FBI inquiries into alleged collusion with the Russians could earn bad enough press to endanger his career. And in the opposite fashion, he seemed to think it was wiser to remain mute about FBI investigations into why and how the administration had surveilled American citizens and then leaked their names to pet reporters.

In the end, Comey’s gymnastics were too clever by half, and he strategized himself out of a job. One of his legacies will be that Hillary Clinton broke the law in using an unsecured server, illegally passed on classified materials, destroyed a great deal of evidence, and participated in Clinton Foundation payola through the cheapening of her position as secretary of state — and got off not just scot-free but outraged that anyone would suggest she should face any consequences whatsoever.

Janet Napolitano’s Slush Fund
The larger problem with modern government is not that high federal and state officials like the megalomaniac James Comey are sometimes fired (they rarely willingly resign in the fashion of the British or Japanese), but they are almost never let go.

We live in a private-guilt rather than a public-shame culture. The now stereotypical “I take full responsibility” fillip of the state apparatchik, by its mere utterance, is supposed to exonerate culpable officials, regardless of the turmoil that their substandard performance has spawned or the absence of real sacrifice that follows such loud penance.

Currently, a University of California internal audit has revealed some rather shocking behavior on the part of Janet Napolitano, president of the UC system.
Her office has requested tuition increases. Student debt is reaching all-time highs in California. At a time that the over-taxed state is facing billion-dollar budget deficits, some retired UC professors are reported to have been earning more than $300,000 in pensions while returning as emeriti instructors; this maxes out their total state compensation at more than a half-million dollars a year. And yet Napolitano apparently failed to disclose that she had accumulated a slush fund of some $175 million in reserve cash.

Her stash reportedly was the result of a long and deliberate practice of requesting far more money that she actually planned to spend. That way, she freed up capital for her own agendas — one of which seems to have been to fund lavish retirement parties. Over four years, Napolitano inter alia also billed the university more than $200,000 a year for her personal apartment. UC, like many contemporary progressive institutions, has a paradoxical view of capitalism and its fruits: Progressive social-justice warriors must be well accommodated first, if, second, they are to advance social justice.
Even as Napolitano championed social-justice agendas, from global warming to safe and sanctuary spaces, she seemed to adopt an imperial lifestyle at public expense.

Even as Napolitano (infamous as Homeland Security secretary for authorizing a memo suggesting that returning military veterans and right-wingers rather than radical Islamists posed the greatest terrorist threat to national security) championed social-justice agendas, from global warming to safe and sanctuary spaces, she seemed to adopt an imperial lifestyle at public expense.

Will she be fired for gross negligence? Malfeasance?

Probably not — and for a variety of well-known reasons.

Savvy public officials purchase de facto indemnity insurance by professing progressive solidarity. Napolitano learned long ago — during her various missteps in the Obama administration — that “noble” aims can more than justify unsavory means to obtain them. In contrast, had she entered UC from the corporate world, had she supported issues such as guaranteeing free speech on campus, or had she opposed the spread of segregated safe spaces and campus attacks on invited speakers, then she probably would have been fired over this latest scandal.

Susan Rice’s Many Dissimulations

Susan Rice managed to be at the center of almost every major Obama-administration scandal involving national security. She lied repeatedly on national television about the cause and nature of the Benghazi killings. She misled the U.N. about the nature of humanitarian and no-fly-zone resolutions in Libya, in order to facilitate bombing Qaddafi out of power. She fantasized about the Bowe Bergdahl swap and in Orwellian fashion assured the nation that the AWOL soldier had “served with honor and distinction” before being captured on the field of battle as a POW; “Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield,” she said.

She was a party to the dissimulations about the Iran Deal side agreements (whose sordid details are slowly trickling out), falsely assuring the nation that there was no connection between cash payments to the Iranians and the release of American hostages.
By any fair measure, Rice at some point deserved to be fired. Instead, after the Benghazi debacle, she was promoted from U.N. ambassador to national-security adviser.

She had insisted to the nation that the Assad regime had destroyed all its Sarin gas weaponry: “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical-weapons stockpile.” And she uttered this just months before Assad once again gassed his own people.

Plus, in all likelihood, she was central to the unmasking of American citizens surveilled by intelligence agencies during the last election cycle and then leaking their identities to pet reporters.

By any fair measure, Rice at some point deserved to be fired. Instead, after the Benghazi debacle, she was promoted from U.N. ambassador to national-security adviser, a post in which she served a full term.

Lois Lerner’s Corruption: More Than a Smidgeon

Lois Lerner, a high-ranking executive at the IRS, resigned under conservative pressure after staging a sort of fake question-and-answer confessional during a panel discussion that disclosed she had targeted conservative groups for undue IRS scrutiny. Like Napolitano and Rice, Lerner understood that she had purchased indemnity with her political partisanship. Barack Obama ultimately characterized her behavior as evincing “not even a smidgeon” of corruption. And why not, given that many conservative groups were defanged by the IRS during the critical months of the 2012 election campaign?

The list could be expanded, but the message is clear. Rarely do presidents or governors fire miscreant government officials — unless they judge that they have become political liabilities, a status that is largely determined by politicized media coverage. Of course, that reality is known in advance by bureaucrats who make the necessary careerist political adjustments.

Donald ‘You’re Fired’ Trump

Into this matrix barged politically incorrect and often mercurial Donald Trump, whose past televised celebrity was largely a result of hosting a reality show in which he ostentatiously fired poor performers.

Trump’s misdemeanor was not that he fired someone who deserved to be fired, but that he did so as if he were still the host of The Apprentice rather than the president of the United States.
The real felony remains the exemptions given to high officials such as Lerner, Napolitano, and Rice who have wreaked havoc because they assume they will never be fired.

Yet the real felony remains the exemptions given to high officials such as Lerner, Napolitano, and Rice who have wreaked havoc because they assume they will never be fired. Even a badly conducted severing of a culpable government head is always preferable to an adroit exemption from any consequences. The one is rare and salutary, the other is commonplace and insidious.

Cry not for the firing of James Comey, but for the thousands of Americans who suffer from these incompetent and haughty officials who are never held accountable.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, to appear in October from Basic Books.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Interesting, Comey impeaches his own testimony

Previous Comey Testimony Shows Nobody at DOJ Asked Him to Drop Russia Case

Katie Pavlich
Posted: May 18, 2017 2:30 PM

MAY 3, 2017:

In light of the New York Times story alleging President Donald Trump told FBI Director James Comey to stop the bureau's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, testimony from a May 3 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is getting attention. 
According to Comey, who testified under oath, he was never pressured by Department of Justice officials to stop the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election. Transcript from WAPO, bolding is mine: 
[SENATOR] HIRONO: Yes. And so speaking of the independence of not just the judiciary but I’d like you to clarify the FBI’s independence from the DOJ apparatus. Can the FBI conduct an investigation independent from the department of Justice. Or does the FBI have to disclose all it’s investigations to the DOJ? And does it have to get the Attorney General’s consent?
COMEY: Well we work with the Department of Justice, whether that’s main justice or U.S. attorney’s offices on all of our investigations.
And so we work with them and so in a legal sense we’re not independent of the department of justice. We are spiritually, culturally pretty independent group and that’s the way you would want tit. But yes, we work with the Department of Justice on all of our investigations.
HIRONO: So if the Attorney General or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?
COMEY: In theory yes.
HIRONO: Has it happened?
COMEY: Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that — without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don’t see a case there and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.
Now, this doesn't disprove that President Trump asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation during a private meeting at the White House earlier this year, but it does show that nobody inside Trump's DOJ was asking him to do so. The Times story alleges Comey has a memo with notes about the President asking him to stop the inquiry. 
President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.
In March Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, leaving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge. Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel on the case. 
Last week during testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said there has been no interference in the FBI's Russia investigation since Comey was fired.

Diversion and Paybacks - The Democratic Coup Against President Trump

Former Bush AG On Comey’s 2007 Brush With Scandal: ‘Jim’s Loyalty Was More To Chuck Schumer’

This isn't the first time James Comey placed himself at the center of a partisan attempt to oust a top Republican. He did the same thing in 2007.

The revelation by fired former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey’s close friends that he has kept meticulous records detailing President Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to improperly influence an ongoing FBI investigation has sent Washington into a tailspin. Did Trump really threaten a sitting FBI director in a private meeting? Did the former FBI director accurately record what happened? Could this be the beginning of the end of Trump?
At the moment, untangling fact from fiction is difficult, given that the event Comey allegedly describes took place only between Comey and the president. With no ability at this time to independently verify either man’s account, we are instead left with a he-said/he-said explanation of events, which means the credibility of the two men involved becomes the prime determinant of one’s view of the situation.

The narrative from the Acela corridor media establishment is that Trump is a known liar and Comey is a honest public servant above reproach, so clearly Comey’s word must be believed, the total absence of any other corroborating evidence notwithstanding. An examination of Comey’s history as the consummate Beltway operator, however, raises questions about whether the towering former U.S. attorney, deputy attorney general, and FBI director is as open and forthright as his allies would have you believe.

In fact, the current episode is not the first time Comey and his associates plotted to oust a sitting Republican official through highly orchestrated political theater and carefully crafted narratives in which Comey is the courageous hero bravely fighting to preserve the rule of law. To understand how Comey came to be FBI director in the first place, and how he operates in the political arena, it is important to review the last scandal in which Comey had a front-row seat: the 2007 U.S. attorney firings and the fight over the 2004 reauthorization of Stellar Wind, a mass National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program designed to mitigate terrorist threats in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The pivotal scene in the Comey-crafted narrative, a drama that made Comey famous and likely paved the road to his 2013 appointment by President Barack Obama to run the FBI, occurred in a Beltway hospital room in early 2004. In Comey’s view, Comey was the last honest man in Washington, the only person standing between a White House that rejected any restraints on its power, and the rule of law protecting Americans from illegal mass surveillance.

A former White House counsel and attorney general with extensive first-hand experience dealing with Comey, however, paints a very different picture of what happened in that hospital room, and disputes numerous key details. In this account, Comey’s actions showcase a duplicitous, secretive schemer whose true loyalties were not to the officials to whom he reported, but to partisan Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). To fully understand and appreciate Jim Comey’s approach to politics, the writings and testimony of Alberto Gonzales, who served as both White House counsel and attorney general during the events in question and is intimately aware of Comey’s history of political maneuvering, is absolutely essential.

Gonzales’s descriptions of his interactions with Comey, included in his 2016 book “True Faith And Allegiance,” are detailed and extensive. While his tone is measured, the language he uses to describe Comey’s actions in 2004 and 2007 leaves little doubt about the former top Bush official’s views on Comey’s character. Gonzales’s opinion is clearly colored by the fact that Comey cravenly used him to jumpstart his own political career by going public with surprise (and questionable) testimony that Gonzales had attempted to take advantage of a deathly ill man in order to ram through authorization of an illegal surveillance program.

Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft had taken ill and was in the hospital at a pivotal time. The legal authorization of a surveillance program meant to find and root out terrorist threats was days from expiring. What happened in Ashcroft’s hospital room in March of 2004 later became political fodder for a hearing in which Senate Democrats used Comey to dredge up the 2004 hospital meeting to tar Gonzales’ credibility and suggest he was unfit to continue serving as attorney general. As the 2004 and 2007 sagas show, Comey is clearly no stranger to using the unarguably legal dismissal of government employees as the backdrop for casting himself as the story’s protaganist standing up to the forces of corruption.
“[I] told my security detail that I needed to get to George Washington Hospital immediately. They turned on the emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital,” Comey testified. “I got out of the car and ran up — literally ran up the stairs with my security detail.”

“I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that,” Comey said.

Comey’s use of the phrase “overrule me” is especially noteworthy, given that the authority he referenced belongs not to the deputy attorney general, but to the attorney general himself. However, unbeknownst to anyone at the White House on that day, Comey had assumed for himself the authorities attendant to Ashcroft’s position. Rather than personally informing anyone at the White House, including the president, the vice president, the White House chief of staff, or the White House counsel, the Department of Justice sent a mere fax to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue noting the change in power. For some reason, the newly designated acting attorney general didn’t feel compelled to personally inform any of his superiors that he was now a cabinet official.
It’s at this point in the narrative that Comey’s testimony took a turn for the dramatic:
I sat down in an armchair by the head of the attorney general’s bed. The two other Justice Department people stood behind me. And Mrs. Ashcroft stood by the bed holding her husband’s arm. And we waited.

And it was only a matter of minutes that the door opened and in walked Mr. Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Mr. Card. They came over and stood by the bed. They greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there — to seek his approval for a matter, and explained what the matter was — which I will not do.

And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me — drawn from the hour-long meeting we’d had a week earlier — and in very strong terms expressed himself, and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, ‘But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general.’


And as he laid back down, he said, ‘But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general. There is the attorney general,’ and he pointed to me, and I was just to his left. The two men did not acknowledge me. They turned and walked from the room. And within just a few moments after that, Director Mueller arrived. I told him quickly what had happened. He had a brief — a memorable brief exchange with the attorney general and then we went outside in the hallway.
Gonzales was taken aback by Comey’s appearance and testimony. It turns out that was by design. Comey kept secret his pre-hearing planning with Schumer and his staff to maximize the fallout of the bomb he planned to drop on Gonzales and the Bush administration. In a significant breach of protocol, Comey also refused to share with the White House or the Department of Justice that he had planned to testify about his work at DOJ, a move which made it impossible for the White House to consider whether it needed to assert executive privilege over portions of Comey’s planned testimony.

As fate would have it, the Schumer staffer who spearheaded the entire spectacle was none other than Preet Bharara, a former employee of Comey’s in the U.S. attorney’s office in New York. Bharara, like Comey, was fired by President Donald Trump earlier this year. And Bharara, like Comey, owes his most recent position of authority in the U.S. government to Schumer and President Barack Obama.
“When I found out from our DOJ legislative liaison that Comey was testifying, I was surprised,” Gonzales wrote after noting that Comey hadn’t worked at DOJ for years when the U.S. attorneys were fired. “It was also odd that we had received no notice at DOJ regarding the appearance of one of the former members of our leadership team at a Senate hearing.”

“I called the White House counsel Fred Fielding, and Fred confirmed that he had no prior notice of Comey’s testimony either,” Gonzales continued. “I was disappointed that the man who had been given so much in his legal career — appointed by President Bush as a U.S. attorney and then as deputy attorney general — did not even notify the White House or me in advance of his testimony.”

“It felt to me that Jim’s loyalty was more to his friend Preet Bharara and to Chuck Schumer,” he wrote.

Gonzales also questioned whether Bharara’s role in ambushing the previous Republican presidential administration was the reason Obama later appointed Bharara to Comey’s old job as U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.
Comey’s 2007 testimony went off just as he, Bharara, and Schumer planned. It was shocking and dramatic. Comey weaved a tale that involved him being notified at the last possible second that Bush’s chief of staff and counsel planned to ambush Ashcroft in his hospital bed and force him against his will to sign a legal document authorizing an ongoing mass surveillance program that Comey and his deputy, Jack Goldsmith, had very recently decided was illegal despite multiple DOJ and National Security Agency legal opinions to the contrary. According to Gonzales, despite having been on the job for months, Comey and Goldsmith didn’t disclose their concerns to the White House counsel about the legality of the surveillance initiative until March 6, just five days before the program’s authorization expired.

The narrative Comey provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee was riveting. But according to Gonzales, it didn’t actually happen.
The narrative Comey provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee was riveting. But according to Gonzales, it didn’t actually happen the way it was presented. And the conflicting details between Comey’s and Gonzales’ account, given Comey’s current attempts to use his credibility and recollection of events witnessed only by himself to take down a Republican official, raise significant questions about the trustworthiness of Comey’s current claims.
According to Gonzales, rather than sitting directly next to Ashcroft, Comey and his two deputies, Goldsmith and Pat Philbin, never made their presence known, and neither Gonzales nor Andy Card, Bush’s chief of staff, had any clue they were there during the 10-minute meeting. To the contrary, Gonzales noted in his book that he assumed the small handful of people in the hiding in the periphery of a darkened room were actually Ashcroft’s security detail doing their best to stay out of the way.

More important, in Gonzales’ telling, Ashcroft never even mentioned Comey, let alone pointed him out to Gonzales as being physically present in the room.
“I was told this morning that I’m no longer attorney general,” Gonzales wrote was Ashcroft’s response to a request to re-authorize the Stellar Wind program, a far cry from the forceful declaration Comey attributed to Ashcroft.
“Certainly, had the vice president, Andy, or I known about the matter, we would have informed the president, and he could have simply summoned the deputy attorney general,” Gonzales wrote. “But none of us knew until John Ashcroft announced the news to us in his hospital room.”

President George W. Bush himself, in his book “Decision Points,” expressed his feeling of shock when he found out that Comey had seized the attorney general’s authority in March of 2004.
It’s unclear why Comey did not feel compelled to inform the president of the United States, his superior, that he had assumed for himself the powers of the office of attorney general.
“I was stunned,” Bush wrote. “Nobody had told me that Comey, John Ashcroft’s deputy, had taken over Ashcroft’s responsibilities when he went in for surgery. If I had known that, I never would have sent Andy and Al to John’s hospital room.”

To date, it’s unclear why Comey did not feel compelled to inform the president of the United States, his superior, that he had assumed for himself the powers of the office of attorney general. Gonzales minced no words in his characterization of the hero narrative Comey wove before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007.

“The details later presented by Jim Comey, and facilitated by Senator Schumer’s staffer, Preet Bharara, describing flashing lights, sirens, and dashing up the hospital staircases may or may not be technically true, but they certainly do not depict what happened later in that hospital room,” Gonzales wrote. “Contrary to Hollywood-style myth, there simply was no confrontation.”

Gonzales even pointedly questioned the Comey narrative that Ashcroft’s health status had made it impossible for him to continue his duties.

“[Card and I] both agreed that Ashcroft had been competent and understood the intricacies of the disputed surveillance matter. He seemed to have been well briefed by [Comey], Goldsmith, and Philbin,” Gonzales wrote. “In an ironic twist, it is possible some or all of those briefings occurred while the attorney general was hospitalized and in a weakened condition, thus raising the question of whether his subordinates had taken advantage of him.”

This cynicism is not unwarranted, given that according to Comey’s own testimony, Ashcroft allegedly addressed Card and Gonzales in the hospital room with language that was “rich in both substance and fact…drawn from the hour-long meeting we’d had a week earlier.” If Ashcroft had such detailed command of facts he had only briefly discussed the previous week, then what exactly was the rationale for Comey continuing to assert the powers of Ashcroft’s position? Comey’s recollection of that conversation reveals an attempt to have it both ways: there was no choice but to designate Comey as acting attorney given Ashcroft’s medical state, and yet Ashcroft was competent enough to slap down Card and Gonzales in exquisite and detailed fashion. Which was it?

Gonzales’s belief, expressed in the book, that Comey and Bharara colluded in secret with Schumer in an attempt to take down a top Bush administration official is no unsupported conspiracy theory, as Bharara himself confirmed Gonzales’s suspicions about Comey’s scheme in a 2016 interview with The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin:
As Bharara recalled, ‘Jim told me the whole story on the phone, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck, because I realized what a significant story this was, and I was sworn to secrecy and nobody knew about it. I told Chuck. He was, like, ‘Whoa!’ ” In the days leading up to the hearing, Bharara and Schumer told no one about the revelation that was coming. ‘I was afraid that if the story got out of what Jim was going to say the Bush Administration would figure out a way to prevent him from testifying,’ Bharara said. ‘We needed to preserve the element of surprise.’
That Bharara, a Senate staffer for Schumer, would plot with Comey to oust a top Republican official is no real surprise. After all, Bharara owes his federal prosecutor career to Comey, for whom Bharara worked when Comey was a U.S. attorney, and to Schumer, who recommended to Obama that Bharara be appointed as the top federal prosecutor in New York. Both men owed their fame and near-universal adoration by the Washington-New York media in the late 2000’s to the political theater they orchestrated at Gonzales’s expense.

This brings us back to 2017 and an emerging drama in which Comey and his former employees Bharara and Goldsmith are once again key actors. This clearly isn’t their first rodeo, nor the first time they have worked together to present a public narrative in which Comey plays the role of the last honest man who just wants to figure out if Col. Jessup ordered the Code Red.
This clearly isn’t their first rodeo, nor the first time they have worked together to present a public narrative in which Comey plays the role of the last honest man.
Is it possible that everything they and their friends are alleging about Comey and Trump is true? Absolutely. Everything they and their associates are anonymously providing to journalists eager to promote their narrative could be true, especially given Trump’s tendency to rhetorically shoot from the hip.

But given Comey’s history of secretly colluding with Democratic officials to craft a disputed narrative that makes everyone but himself look awful in order to oust a top Republican who didn’t sufficiently kowtow to Comey, there’s little reason to assume events transpired exactly the way Comey and his friends allege, especially given that both Comey and Bharara have rather obvious axes to grind on the matter. After all, Trump is the reason neither of them currently has a job. In light of Comey’s history of twisting private conversations and events, it’s probably a good idea to take anonymous leaks from him and his friends with a grain of salt.
“Over the years, various commentators and politicians have picked up on Comey’s remark to the president [about Bush’s staff knowing about Stellar Wind’s legal problems for weeks] and expanded it to say that President Bush’s staff knew of the specific surveillance problem for months before broaching it with the president,” Gonzales wrote in his book. “That is absolutely false, and the implication that the president was ill served by individuals attempting to keep information from him about a highly sensitive matter is also disingenuous.”

Sound familiar?

Now, Gonzales has publicly raised questions about the timing and rationale of Trump’s firing of Comey and stated the American people deserve a full account of what happened. And the former attorney general has thus far stayed out of the media fray regarding the latest alleged revelations about Comey and Trump.
So Comey could be telling the truth. Or he could be disingenuously characterizing private conversations with the president to get revenge against a higher-ranking official who got in Jim Comey’s way. It wouldn’t be the first time. Just ask Alberto Gonzales.