During a Rose Garden ceremony today President Trump resoundingly disputed the claims of fired FBI Director James Comey with a definitive affirmation of his position. There is no ambiguity:
Interestingly everyone has previously presented the possibility of “tapes” around a proposition that President Trump would be the recorder, in his private dining room, of such a conversation. Almost no-one has considered the possibility that President Trump would be the subject of any recording, and might just later discover the activity. ‘Secret Service recording’?…
Again, timelines and backdrop are important.
When President Trump originally tweeted his concerns about being monitored, recorded, surveilled or wire-tapped, it was March 4th.
♦ The private Green Room dinner that FBI Director James Comey attended with President Trump was January 27th, just about a week after the inauguration. This is the meeting where, according to Comey, President Trump asked for “loyalty”.
♦ The next time President Trump and James Comey were alone was in the Oval Office on February 14th.
♦ Coincidentally(?) February 14th was the exact same day when the head of the Secret Service, Joseph Clancy, announced his resignation. Clancy’s resignation was effective MARCH 4th.
FEBRUARY 14th – The director of the Secret Service is stepping down. Joseph Clancy informed his colleagues of his decision to retire, effective March 4, saying that “for personal reasons, it is time.” Clancy, 61, says he wants to spend more time with his family.
Clancy was brought back to the Secret Service as director by former President Obama in 2014 (link)
Shortly thereafter President Trump remodeled the “Green Room” (presidential dining room) adding a flat screen TV and a chandelier he paid for personally. During the remodel the dining room was “taken down to the studs”, and according to a quote later delivered by Time Magazine:
TIME – […] But few rooms have changed so much so fast as his dining room, where he often eats his lunch amid stacks of newspapers and briefing sheets. A few weeks back, the President ordered a gutting of the room. “We found gold behind the walls, which I always knew. Renovations are grand,” he says, boasting that contractors from the General Services Administration resurfaced the walls and redid the moldings in two days. “Remember how hard they worked? They wanted to make me happy.”
Trump says he used his own money to pay for the enormous crystal chandelier that now hangs from the ceiling. “I made a contribution to the White House,” he jokes. But the thing he wants to show is on the opposite wall, above the fireplace, a new 60-plus-inch flat-screen television that he has cued up with clips from the day’s Senate hearing on Russia. Since at least as far back as Richard Nixon, Presidents have kept televisions in this room, usually small ones, no larger than a bread box, tucked away on a sideboard shelf. That’s not the Trump way. (link)
Again, notice in the tweet President Trump is NOT saying he recorded the conversation(s), only that “”tapes” of the conversations” might exist. Presumably the conversations on January 6th (Trump Tower), January 27th (Green Room), and February 14th (Oval Office). [Secret Service Recordings?]
Now, overlay the timeline of the Michael Flynn story and consider the bigger picture:
♦We know from Director James Comey’s own admission to congress that he intentionally withheld congressional notification of a counter-intelligence investigation that began in July of 2016.
Within Comey’s March 20th testimony to explain why he intentionally avoided congressional oversight, he cited the recommendation of Bill Priestap, Asst. Director of Counter Intelligence.
Bill Priestap is married to Sabina Menshell a self-employed “consultant” with a history of donations to Democrat candidates, specifically to Hillary Clinton.
♦We also know from Sally Yates testimony (May 8th), where she outlined the notification of White House Counsel Don McGahn of the issues the DOJ had with Michael Flynn, that Yates took Bill Priestap with her to the WH meeting on January 26th.
So let’s add President Trump’s meeting with FBI Director James Comey into the timeline of Sally Yates, and add her version of what McGahn’s concerns were about the content of the afternoon meeting:
•Friday January 20th – Inauguration
•Tuesday January 24th – Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was interviewed at the White House by the FBI.
•Wednesday January 25th – The Department of Justice received a detailed readout from the FBI agents who had interviewed Flynn. Yates said she felt “it was important to get this information to the White House as quickly as possible.”
•Thursday January 26th – (morning) Yates called McGahn first thing that morning to tell him she had “a very sensitive matter” that had to be discussed face to face. McGahn agreed to meet with Yates later that afternoon.
•Thursday January 26th – (afternoon) Sally Yates traveled to the White House along with a senior member of the DOJ’s National Security Division, Bill Priestap, who was overseeing the matter. This was Yates’ first meeting with McGahn in his office, which also acts as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).
Yates said she began their meeting by laying out the media accounts and media statements made by Vice President Mike Pence and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn’s activity “that we knew not to be the truth.”
According to Sally Yates testimony, she and Bill Priestap reportedly presented all the information to McGahn so the White House could take action that they deemed appropriate. When asked by McGahn if Flynn should be fired, Yates answered, “that really wasn’t our call.”
Yates also said her decision to notify the White House counsel had been discussed “at great length.” According to her testimony: “Certainly leading up to our notification on the 26th, it was a topic of a whole lot of discussion in DOJ and with other members of the intel community.”
•Friday January 27th – (morning) White House Counsel Don McGahn called Yates in the morning and asked if she could come back to his office.
•Friday January 27th – (late afternoon) According to her testimony, Sally Yates returned to the White House late that afternoon. One of McGahn’s topics discussed was whether Flynn could be prosecuted for his conduct.
Specifically, according to Yates, one of the questions McGahn asked Yates was, “Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another?” She explained that it “was a whole lot more than that,” and reviewed the same issues outlined the prior day.
McGahn expressed his concern that taking action might interfere with the FBI investigation of Flynn, and Yates said it wouldn’t. “It wouldn’t really be fair of us to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands,” Yates had told McGahn.
McGahn asked if he could look at the underlying evidence of Flynn’s conduct, and she said they would work with the FBI over the weekend and “get back with him on Monday morning.”
•Friday January 27th – (evening) In what appears to be only a few hours later, President Trump is having dinner with FBI Director James Comey, in the Green Room, where President Trump asked if he was under investigation.
Now, accepting the politicization of the entire Russian Conspiracy Narrative that was leading the headlines for the two months prior to this dinner; and knowing moments earlier your Chief White House counsel informs you that two political operatives (Yates and Priestap) within the DOJ were providing classified intelligence reports about General Flynn; and knowing the prior months (Nov/Dec/Jan) were fraught with leaks from intelligence reports identical to those discussed; wouldn’t you perhaps think that any action you take could be utilized to add fuel to this Russian narrative? And/Or be used by these same leak facilitators to make something seem like something it is not?
Think about it.
If you were President under those circumstances, wouldn’t you ask FBI Director James Comey what the deal was with these investigations, and whether or not you were under investigation BEFORE you took action to retain or fire Mike Flynn?
Given the circumstances it could appear, and most definitely should be considered, that the President was being ‘set-up’ to impede an FBI investigation by taking action against Flynn.
For several months the media were steadfast in their efforts to turn this into Watergate 2.0. To achieve that objective the political angle-players and media need only to paint Trump into a corner with a credible accusation of the president interfering with an FBI investigation (Flynn).
If Trump took action – What mechanism was in place for the President to protect himself from accusations of impropriety and impeding an investigation?
Who is to say Yates and Priestap would stand behind the White House and support action taken by the President?
What confidence would President Trump have that Yates/Priestap would speak publicly about their advice?
What would FBI Director James Comey and Asst. FBI Director McCabe do with a President Trump conversation about Mike Flynn who was “under investigation”?
Remember, for reference: On February 15th, while discussing another issue, FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe asked Chief of Staff Reince Priebus for 5 minutes alone after the meeting. At the one-on-one McCabe told Priebus the New York Times Russia and Trump campaign story was a “bunch of BS”.
Priebus asked McCabe if McCabe would be able to say that publicly. McCabe said he would check with James Comey. Later, McCabe called back and said he couldn’t issue a statement about it. SEE SCREENGRAB:
Hello? These are not exactly the most trustworthy of FBI and DOJ officials.
Exactly the opposite is true. These are known political operatives, in appointed positions of government, with admitted intentions to manipulate transparency, accountability and they even testify to congress they are intentionally not allowing oversight.
President Trump was expected to trust, or work with, this crew?
And now it is discovered, and admitted, that FBI Director James Comey was leaking information to the media for many of the stories.
James Comey testified yesterday that he delivered his memos to his friend at Columbia University, Professor Daniel Richman, on/after May 15th. He said the intent was to initiate a “special prosecutor”:
“I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, ‘cause it didn’t dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation; there might be a tape.” [Referring to Monday May 15] “And my judgment was I needed to get that out in the public square so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. So I asked a close friend of mine to do it.”
[…] By Mr. Comey’s account, his answer to Mr. Trump’s initial question apparently did not satisfy the president, the associates said. Later in the dinner, Mr. Trump again said to Mr. Comey that he needed his loyalty.
Mr. Comey again replied that he would give him “honesty” and did not pledge his loyalty, according to the account of the conversation.
But Mr. Trump pressed him on whether it would be “honest loyalty.”
“You will have that,” Mr. Comey told his associates he responded. (link)
The President Trump Tweet James Comey claimed yesterday he was responding to, was transmitted by the President on Friday May 12th (the day after the NYT article):
So the “leak” to the New York Times, to write the Thursday May 11th story about the dinner in question (there were only two participants: Trump and Comey) happened at least four days prior to James Comey stating he intentionally gave memos to his friend Daniel Richman after waking up on Monday night May 15th.
Here’s the statement today from President Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz which is directly calling out the reality behind the timeline: