America is now living in a vicious, 24-hour breaking news cycle. When my phone buzzes, I’m terrified that it’s a breaking news alert. What the hell is going to happen next? In this strange time, it’s hard to keep track of exactly what’s going on so we’re going to break down the FBI’s investigation into possible collusions between the Trump campaign & Russia.
The CIA, NSA and FBI have concluded that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 American election. A report from intelligence agencies stated that Putin “developed a clear preference” for Donald Trump becoming President over Hillary Clinton. Looks like Putin got his way – but the question now is, did anyone in the Trump campaign, including Trump himself, help Russian President Vladimir Putin with this attack on American democracy?
No one is sure yet but the FBI is investigating the possible links between Trump, his campaign and Russia. The head of the investigation was James Comey, the former head of the FBI, until President Trump fired Comey on May 9th. But Trump didn’t call Comey to fire him. He didn’t arrange a meeting. He let Comey find out in the strangest, most humiliating way possible. Comey was on a trip to Los Angeles and was addressing FBI employees there when he saw news of his firing on the television screens in the office. According to sources who were there, Comey originally thought it was a practical joke of some sort. So, yeah. Comey found out he was fired from glancing at the television. WTF?
Trump firing Comey lead people to draw Watergate parallels, with one Senator calling the firing “Nixonian”. President Nixon also fired the lead investigator looking into Watergate.
Trump said he fired Comey based on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions even though Sessions had previously recused himself from anything regarding the Trump-Russia investigation after it came out that he had failed to report his own communications with Russians. Trump claimed he fired Comey because of how Comey treated the Clinton e-mail investigation (that’s a whole other article) but skeptics suggested Trump fired Comey because of Comey’s Trump-Russia investigation.
Oh, yeah, and then Trump admitted that’s why he fired Comey. According to official White House documents, Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after he had fired Comey that Comey was “crazy, a real nut job”. Trump also said, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off”.
So, despite initial claims that he had fired Comey because of Comey’s supposed mishandling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, Trump admitted the next day to Russians that he fired Comey to take the pressure off of himself.
Right. If you’re thinking that’s insane, you’re right. Wait, did I mention that American journalists were denied access to the meeting between Trump & Russian officials in the Oval Office but Russian journalists were granted access?……… Yeah. That happened.
After Trump fired Comey, we learned about the existence of James Comey’s memos. Apparently, Comey is a meticulous notetaker who chronicles conversations and meetings. After meetings with President Trump, Comey had written detailed memos on the meetings then given them to his aides at the FBI. Reports of the contents of the Comey memos were full of bombshell interactions between Comey and Trump.
In one memo, Comey detailed a meeting in February where President Trump reportedly asked Comey to terminate the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.
“I hope you can see you clear way to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said to Comey. “He is a good guy.”
According to the memo, Comey said he responded by saying, “I agree he is a good guy”.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
This report of President Trump asking Director Comey to shut down a federal investigation lead many to call for obstruction of justice charges.
In response, the White House said that President Trump had not asked Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation.
“The president is confident in the events that he has maintained, and he wants the truth in these investigations to get to the bottom of the situation,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary. “There are two investigations going on in the House and Senate, and he wants to get to the bottom of this.”
The memos also stated that President Trump had asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to Trump. Comey didn’t give Trump a pledge of loyalty, but offered honesty instead.
In the fallout from the Comey memos, there were calls for a special counsel. The formation of a special counsel is basically meant to keep Trump’s cabinet out of the investigation process. A special counsel guarantees greater autonomy from the Justice Department and the president’s appointees. A special counsel has been appointed to investigate possible collusion between President Trump, his campaign associates and Russian officials as well as the possibility of Trump obstructing justice as raised by the Comey memos.
The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to oversee the special counsel investigation.
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, has come under fire in light of the Russia investigation. Last week, news broke that in December, Kushner had discussed creating a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Russia. There is no known precedent for creating secret communications channels between the transition team of a president-elect and a foreign government.
Kushner is now one of the focuses of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Specifically, investigators are digging into meetings Kushner had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak as well as a Russian banking executive.
After reports that Kushner was part of the FBI’s investigation into Russia & the Trump campaign, some Democrats called for the White House to revoke Kushner’s security clearance, including DNC deputy communications director Adrienne Watson.