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The latest Trump White House crisis
grips America
So who do you trust? Donald Trump
or James Comey?

May 17, 2017

President Donald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore
Chronicle staff
News & opinion

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Under the circumstances it appears a fair question to ask: would the last rational, thinking person in America who believes President Trump or his communication staff have a shred of credibility left, please turn the lights off when they leave?

The news of that stunning memo from fired FBI Director James Comey - if it exists and if it accurately portrays President Trump in a one-on-one meeting with Comey asking the FBI Director to shut down the FBI's Russia-connection probe into fired former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn -- has all sorts of people talking a potential obstruction of justice charge on President Trump's part and much more.

This is a bonsai basketball of bad news for the president in more ways than one.

Here's how the landscape has changed since that New York Times article about the Comey memo surfaced:

.....Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said the scandals swamping the Trump White House are of “Watergate size and scale”.

..... Late Tuesday, the Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, Jason Chaffetz, sent a letter to the FBI requesting the bureau turn over all memos former FBI Director James Comey may have written about his meetings with the President. He gave Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s acting director, until May 24 to comply.

..... Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona tweeted: “Congress needs to see the Comey memo.”

.....Independent Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate intelligence committee said in an interview on CNN that the memo raised the possibility of impeachment proceedings against President Trump

.....A CNN story headlined, "Showdown between the President and the FBI Director he fired may dictate the fate of Trump's Presidency." America faces a choice, says the report. "Does it believe Donald Trump or James Comey? A theatrical showdown is now looming between the President with a hazy relationship with the truth and the FBI director he fired, whose finely tuned sense of his own integrity has often steered him into rocky political waters."

It adds: "The coming confrontation between Comey and Trump...promises to have grave implications for the longevity of an administration that appears to slip deeper into utter disarray by the hour. There doesn't seem to be a way that both men could survive the contest with their reputations intact."

A gut check moment for Republicans

.....Last night on NBC News, Chuck Todd NBC's Political Director and moderator of the long running "Meet The Press" TV program had this to say: "This is a gut check moment now for congressional Republicans. They've already been taking on a lot of water politically either having to defend of deflect actions by President Trump...this (the Comey memo) raises the stakes though to a whole new level. This...introduces the idea of obstruction of justice if there's a memo."

"Now, congressional Republicans...they're gonna have no choice but to start issuing subpoenas...and I can tell you this right now Comey probably has more credibility on Capitol Hill than the President," said Todd.

.....A Tuesday piece in The National Review by David French makes the case that the allegation against Trump in the Comey memo is serious as a heart attack and that there "is no good outcome" for anyone in this latest Trump controversy.

From the report:

"The analysis here is pretty simple. If the memo exists, then there is compelling evidence that the president committed a potentially impeachable offense. Here is the alleged chain of events: First, Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation of a close former associate and a former senior official in his administration. Second, Comey refused. Third, weeks later Trump fired Comey. Fourth, Trump then misled the American people regarding the reason for the dismissal. Each prong is important, but it’s worth noting that the fourth prong — Trump’s deception regarding the reason for Comey’s termination — is particularly problematic in context. Deception is classic evidence of malign intent."

"If f true, this is a serious abuse of power, and a Republican Congress would certainly impeach a Democrat if the roles were reversed. But — and this is vitally important to everyone at DEFCON 1 on Twitter — we don’t know yet if the New York Times account is true."

And here, says French is why there is no good outcome of this for anyone:

"Either there is now compelling evidence that the president committed a serious abuse of power, or the nation’s leading press outlets are dupes for a vindictive, misleading story.

Either outcome violates the public trust in vital American institutions. Either outcome results in a degree of political chaos."

A new Daily Beast report by David Cay Johnston called, "Donald Trump is a clear and present danger," makes the case that Trump, "Recklessley firing FBI Director Jim Comey eliminated any remaining doubt: Donald Trump and his administration cannot be trusted to have any role in investigating his and his entourage’s relationship with Russia and Russians. Yet he is about to seize control of that probe, while the Republican-controlled Congress acts less like a coequal branch of government and more like a White House subsidiary."

"Compounding this, the White House’s efforts Monday to deceive the American public about the president giving Russia super-secret intelligence only add to the reasons to distrust his competence, integrity and, indeed, suspect his loyalty."

"The day after firing Comey, the Washington Post reported Monday, President Trump gave Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak information we received from Israel — who may not care to share such information again—so secret we had not shared it with our closest allies. That put in danger not just American lives, but those of the brave agents of the Israeli government who obtained that information and shared it with us."

At the end of the report Johnston asks how much clearer can the picture be of what is really going on here, "That America has a president who is contemptuous of the Constitution, compromised by the Russians and willing to try any lie to hang onto power?



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