Trump’s Comey purge is only the end of the beginning

     U.S. President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the White House in Washington on Wednesday. (Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP)

    U.S. President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the White House in Washington on Wednesday. (Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP)

    Deep down in his pysche, if there is such a place, the beleaguered reality-TV star must be pining for the good old days when he could blithely walk into beauty queen dressing rooms and ogle without accountability. Instead, he’s stuck in a burgeoning fecalstorm of his own making.

    Firing James Comey in a desperate bid to derail the FBI’s Russia investigation will end absolutely nothing. As Winston Churchill said, during an earlier time of crisis, “Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.” At most, “it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”

    Such chaos! Trump’s propagandists are so dysfunctional that they can’t even get their lies straight. At first, Trump’s aides said Comey was fired because of the way he handled Hillary Clinton in 2016. But then Kellyanne Conway (back in action, because it was all inept hands on deck) resurfaced on TV to speed-rap the exact opposite: “This has everything to do with the performance of the FBI director since the president has been in the White House.”

    Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu163144.html
    this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu163144.html
    this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu163144.html

    So here we are. The next chapter in Trump’s self-inflicted saga has so many subplots, I am at pains to list them all. Here’s where things stand today (or at least this hour, or perhaps merely this minute):

    1. The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoened Michael Flynn, the ex-national security adviser/Russian stooge, seeking documents that track his interactions with Russian officials. Flynn was supposed to hand over documents in April, and failed to comply. Flynn, as previously reported, has offered to talk in exchange for immunity from prosecution, but thus far the feds have refused him. A source close to the White House tells the Atlantic magazine that Trump “is worried about Flynn. They don’t know what Flynn is going to say.”

    2. The Senate Intelligence Committee has also asked for financial documents about Trump from the unit of the Treasury Department that monitors money laundering. (Yes, you read that right. Money laundering.) Oh, and by the way, acting FBI director Andrew McCabe told the Senate intel panel today that the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation is “highly significant.”

    3. Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to a number of Flynn’s associates, people who worked under contract with Flynn during the post-2014 period when he was getting paid by Russian firms and propagandists. This development leaked on Tuesday, hours before Trump fired Comey. As CNN reported, “the subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July.”

    4. Jason Chaffetz, the lame duck chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has asked the Justice Department’s Inspector General (the in-house watchdog) to investigate “the facts and circumstances” of Trump’s Comey purge. One interesting circumstance is that Comey, on the eve of his firing, was seeking more money and resources for the FBI’s investigation.

    5. Miracle of miracles, a small but growing number of House Republicans are now saying publicly that it might be wise to hire a special prosecutor. Paul Ryan, of course, remains mum (at this point, he has plumb forgotten where Trump stashed his testicles), but rank-and-filers are starting to warm to the idea — especially if the House and Senate intelligence chairmen say yes, and especially if Trump insults everyone by nominating a toady to take over the FBI.

    6. Trump’s FBI nominee needs to be confirmed by the Senate — which means that the Comey firing, and the Trump-Russia investigation, will dominate the news during the inevitably tumultuous confirmation hearings. Mike Lee, one of the most conservative Republican senators, suggested today — in all seriousness — that Trump should nominate Merrick Garland. (A semi-functional White House would’ve at least had Comey’s replacement waiting in the wings, to speed the smoothest possible transition. Apparently that basic personnel decision didn’t occur to Trump. Hey, nobody knew that governing could be this complicated.)

    7. FBI employes are incensed about the firing, and they’re leaking with a fury to the free and independent press. One FBI official tells The Wall Street Journal, Trump has “essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI. There will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind.” Case in point: Trump claimed, in his termination letter to Comey, that Comey had assured him “three times” that he was not under investigation. In response, Comey associates are telling the press that no such assurances were ever voiced; that no FBI director would breach criminal procedure in that fashion; that, in the words of one Comey associate, Trump’s claim “is literally farcical.”

    As John McCain told a group of foreign diplomats, “This is a centipede. I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop, I can just guarantee it. There’s just too much information that we don’t have that will be coming out.”

    Trump can’t control the burgeoning narrative. This is not like it was in Manhattan, where he’d phone gossip columnists and boast about himself for the daily cycle. In his current gig, he’s accountable for his lies and actions — and it’s even conceivable that some of his voters are starting to wake up.

    I kid you not. A guy in Delaware County, quoted yesterday, says that he liked Trump’s “vision for America” and voted for him accordingly. But now? “If it’s found true that President Trump is covering up, then I think he should be impeached.” If that ‘tude takes root in the fan base, there’s no way Kellyanne Conway can jibberjabber it away.

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

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