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Tag: james comey

Guardian: Trump Seems Primed to Return the FBI to the Hoover Era

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

By Editorial Board
The Guardian

The country is still reeling after the bombshell report that Donald Trump asked the former FBI director James Comey to shut down the bureau’s investigation into Michael Flynn. Did the president fire Comey to slow down the FBI Russia investigation? Did Trump obstruct justice?

These questions are getting the attention that they deserve. But the focus on Comey’s firing is obscuring the issue of who Trump will hire to replace him – and the threat that this appointment poses to Americans’ civil liberties and civil rights.

Recently, the journalist Ashley Feinberg uncovered Comey’s personal Twitter account; he had used the pseudonym “Reinhold Niebuhr”. Tellingly, the real Niebuhr was a theologian, public intellectual, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient targeted for FBI surveillance because of his lawful opposition to the Vietnam war.

Niebuhr wasn’t alone. The FBI has a long history of abusing its power to serve political ends. In the early 20th century, J Edgar Hoover created his Radical Alien Division to conduct dragnet surveillance of American immigrants. It surveilled Marcus Garvey to collect evidence used in his deportation to Jamaica. It wiretapped Dr Martin Luther King Jr during the civil rights era. At President Dwight Eisenhower’s direction, Hoover compiled a “list of homosexuals” to root out gay people working for the government.

Comey had serious flaws. But he understood the past misdeeds of the FBI. He kept a copy of the original order to wiretap King on his desk and required new FBI agents and analysts to visit King’s memorial on the National Mall. As Comey put it in 2015, he tried to “to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them”.

Trump, on the other hand, seems anxious to return to the Hoover era.

Trump Considers Appointing First Woman to Lead 82-Year-Old FBI

Fran Townsend, via Twitter

Fran Townsend, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump is reportedly considering appointing the first woman to head the FBI after firing Director James Comey earlier this month under suspicious circumstances.

Politico confirmed that Fran Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, was approached by the Trump administration about the coveted job. 

“I’ve talked to folks in the administration about it,” she said.

Acknowledging that her candidacy is “history-making,” Townsend would be the first woman to take the helm of the FBI since the bureau was founded in 1935. “The fact that women are in that mix says a lot about how far we’ve come. That hasn’t been true before,” she said. “Regardless of whatever decision is made, we have begun to shatter a glass ceiling about what is the population of people who are qualified and competitive to hold such a position.”

Asked whether she’d take the job if its was offered, Townsend dodged the question.

As for whether she’d take the job if offered, the former Bush official demurred: “You know what? I learned in the White House I don’t do hypotheticals,” she said, “but I will say I was quite honored and quite flattered to be approached.”

Trump’s Search for New FBI Director Starts from Scratch Again

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just a week after President Trump said he was “very close” to choosing a new FBI director, his administration is now starting from scratch, a senior administration official told CNN.

That means former Sen. Joe Lieberman is no longer the leading candidates.

Trump, who sources said had narrowed down his choices to just a handful of finalists, now wants more candidates from which to pick.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a big role in the process, interviewing candidates, including acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former congressman and FBI special agent Mike Rogers, and Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush. If appointed, Townsend would be the first woman to lead the FBI in the bureau’s history.

What’s unclear is whether Trump’s often combative relationship with the intelligence community and his treatment of former FBI Director James Comey would make the job less appealing to qualified candidates.

Among the candidates who have already bailed out are former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, Associate Judge Michael Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals, career FBI official Richard McFeely, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy.

Trump to Comey: Jail Journalists Who Refuse to Identify Anonymous Sources


typewriter-reporterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump continued his attack on the free press by asking then-FBI Director James Comey to jail journalists who refuse to disclose the names of anonymous government sources responsible for leaking embarassing information about his administration.

It was the same Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump is accused of asking Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Saying he was tired of news leaks detailing his private conversations with several leaders worldwide, Trump asked Comey to aggressively pursue the leakers.

When Comey advised the president that it would be difficult to identify the leaks without the cooperation of journalists, Trump told the FBI director to send reporters to jail if they refused to help provide information.

The unusual request was written in a memo by Comey, who kept meticulous notes on his meetings with Trump.

A press freedom advocacy group came to the defense of journalists, saying Trump’s comments “cross a dangerous line.”

“The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line. But no president gets to jail journalists,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement.

“Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information.”

Chaffetz to Meet with Comey Today, Pledges to Obtain Documents about Trump Conversations

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he plans to meet with former FBI Director James Comey today and will pursue any records of meetings between President Trump and Comey.

The meeting would be the first between the pair since Comey was fired on May 9 under suspicious circumstances, Bloomberg reports. 

The deposed former FBI director is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee sometime after Memorial Day on May 29.

Chaffetz is looking for documents about meetings between Comey and the president, especially after the former FBI director said he kept meticulous memos on the conversations.

“It’s important to remember nobody’s actually seen these documents,” Chaffetz said on Sunday. “There’s been an awful lot written and said about it, but I don’t even know that the Department of Justice has them. Maybe Director Comey has them. I don’t know where they reside. I don’t know if there are documents. But we’re certainly pursuing them.”

Other Stories of Interest

Commentary: Trump’s Firing of Comey Was ‘Legally Proper And Politically Necessary’

James Comey testifies about President Trump before a Senate committee.

James Comey testifies about President Trump before a Senate committee.

By Donald Brand
Fortune

As FBI director, James Comey proved himself a competent administrator capable of inspiring the loyalty of agents and staff. Yet President Donald Trump still should have fired him.

Despite the controversy that has ensued over the manner in which Trump fired Comey and the overblown comparisons to President Richard Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal, the simple reality is that Comey’s firing was both legally proper and politically necessary. None of this is to justify the inept way in which it was handled by a politically incompetent Trump administration. Nevertheless, Comey had politicized the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign and he lacked the political skills to restore public confidence in the non-partisan character of the agency he headed.

Comey is widely regarded as a man of personal integrity. He first became known to the public when he threatened to resign rather than reauthorize a post-9/11 surveillance program that he viewed as legally suspect, even though it had the support of President George W. Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. Attorney General John Ashcroft had been hospitalized for gall bladder surgery, and while he recuperated, Comey was filling in as acting attorney general. Comey not only refused to renew the program when authorization for it was imminently expiring, but he headed off an attempt by Andrew Card, Bush’s chief of staff, and Gonzales to circumvent Comey by making a bedside appeal to the ailing Ashcroft.

Comey’s willingness to challenge presidential authority thus made him a seemingly ideal candidate for FBI director when he was appointed in 2013. The FBI has historically cultivated a reputation for non-partisan independence from both presidential and congressional interference.

Yet during the 2016 presidential election, Comey decided not to prosecute Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her actions regarding the handling of classified material on a private email server. In a May 9 memo, Rod Rosenstein, Trump’s deputy attorney general, argued that the former FBI director had improperly usurped the authority of the Justice Department in making that decision. That led Rosenstein to the conclusion that Comey should be terminated.

To read more click here.

Yet Another Candidate for FBI Director Withdrawals Name from Consideration

Former FBI official Richard McFeely, via FBI.

Former FBI official Richard McFeely, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Yet another candidate to replace FBI Director James Comey has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Former FBI official Richard McFeely alerted President Trump’s administration that he’s not interested in the top FBI job, citing family considerations, WJLA reports

That leaves three remaining candidates after an additional two – Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. – took their name out of the running.

Some of the remaining candidates include former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned Independent.

Political observers predicated Trump would have problems finding a replacement because of the way he treated Comey, who was fired on May 9, prompting the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russians.

America Will Be Glued to the TV When James Comey Testifies Before Congress

FBI Director James Comey appears Wednesday before the Senate.

FBI Director James Comey appears Wednesday before the Senate.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If  Americans were given a choice who they’d like to have a one-on-one dinner with, fired FBI Director James Comey would be pretty high on that list for many.

Well, the next best thing to that would be to hear Comey publicly testify before Congress.

That’s now expected to happen.

Comey will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee at a date to be set after Memorial Day, committee leaders announced Friday night, according to the Washington Post.

Expect plenty folks to be glued to the TV or computer during the testimony, as they were during the Watergate hearings.