A whiff of Nixon in the Kremlingate scandal

     White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

    White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Md., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

    OK, now can we have an independent probe? Now can we have a special prosecutor?

    I’ll just let these new details speak for themselves:

    The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN…

    (FBI Director James) Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, according to sources, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation…

    The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations…The Trump administration’s efforts to press Comey run contrary to Justice Department procedure memos issued in 2007 and 2009 that limit direct communications on pending investigations between the White House and the FBI…

    Several members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees tell CNN that the congressional investigations are continuing into those alleged Russian contacts with the Trump campaign…the push to investigate further shows that Capitol Hill is digging deeper into areas that may not be comfortable for the White House.

    One big reason why Trump keeps dumping in demagogic fashion on CNN (“Fake news!”) is because CNN’s investigative reporters continue to doggedly pursue Kremlingate. The significance of their new story, posted yesterday, should be obvious: The Trump regime has tried politicize the FBI, which by law is tasked with conducting investigations free of outside partisan interference.

    Asking the FBI to dispute press reports of the Trump regime’s ties on Russia – at a time when the FBI is in the midst of investigating the Trump regime’s ties to Russia – breaches established ethical standards and signals that the White House is already in coverup mode. And note that the story is attributed to “multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter.” Translation: People at the FBI, angered by the Trump regime’s attempt to compromise the FBI probe, leaked the episode to CNN.

    Reportedly, the Trump aide who approached the FBI was Reince Priebus. Naturally, the White House is denying the whole thing, but decide for yourself whether to believe that font of alt-facts. When the target of an FBI investigation tries to compromise that investigation by seeking to enlist the FBI to carry water for partisan purposes, that’s a serious allegation; after all, the FBI is not tasked with serving as Trump’s public relations arm. At minimum, this episode demonstrates – yet again – that the Trump-Russia connection deserves to be probed by a fully independent special prosecutor.

    Indeed, this whole thing feels like deja vu. Voices from the past, strategizing about how to compromise the FBI’s probe of a budding scandal…

    Presidential aide: “The FBI is not under control.”

    The President: “You open that scab, there’s a hell of a lot of things and that we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further…Call them in. Good. Good deal! Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it…(We) should call the FBI in and say that ‘we wish for the country, don’t go any further into this case,’ period!”

    That was Richard Nixon, responding to aide H. R. Haldeman, on June 23, 1972. The “smoking gun” exchange, caught on tape, exposed the regime’s attempt to interfere with a federal probe of Watergate. That’s obstruction of justice; it was Article I in the  Articles of Impeachment that Nixon escaped only by quitting. Under the provisions of 18 U.S. Code, anyone who “endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due administration of justice” has committed a crime.

    I’ll just leave it there.

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    But hey, let’s start the weekend with a smile. One of my brothers saw this on Twitter:

    A Russian spy, a sexual predator, and a millionaire walk into a bar. Bartender says, “What can I get you Mr. President?”

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    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.

     

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