‘I hope you can let this go’
So President Trump allegedly told the now ex-FBI Director James Comey, referring to the bureau’s probe into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,’ Trump was quoted as saying in a private meeting with Comey. ‘He (Flynn) is a good guy.’ Comey was cleverly selective with his answer. ‘I agree he is a good guy.’
That one sentence, which essentially amounted to a thinly veiled attempt to shut down an FBI investigation into Flynn’s murky liaisons with Russian personnel, is likely to become Trump’s political epitaph.
The revelation that the 45th President uttered these words came in the form of a memo written by Comey, on foot of the alleged conversation that took place during a meeting back in February, exactly the day after Flynn resigned. Comey was reportedly shocked that the President would ask something that could be interpreted as intimidation, and took down notes after the meeting ended. Comey wanted to ensure that a paper trail existed, as current notes taken by an FBI agent usually hold up in court.
James Comey’s habit of writing down conversations that may later come into question was well known among his associates. In this case, such work practice may very well bring about the end of Donald Trump’s Presidency.
Despite Trump’s attempts to derail the probe into Flynn’s activities, the investigation continued. Indeed, a federal grand jury in Virginia has recently issued subpoenas relating to material involving Mr. Flynn.
Trump shoots himself in the head, politically speaking: The firing of James Comey
Donald Trump pressed the nuclear button and fired Director Comey on May 9th, immediately sending shockwaves across Washington. The official reason given for the man’s dismissal quoted Comey’s work performance, particularly in relation to the controversial decision not to prosecute Hilary Clinton over the use of public email servers during her presidential campaign. According to Clinton, Comey’s intervention costed her the election, and Trump had nothing but admiration and praise for Comey at the time.
But things had changed by May 10th: ‘He wasn’t doing a good job,’ Trump said about Comey on that date, a day after the drama began to unfold.
The official reason notwithstanding, the White House was thrown into disarray over the issue 24 hours later, as conflicting reports about the reason for Comey’s dismissal began to emerge. One spokesperson after another attempted to justify the President’s decision to get rid of Comey, to little avail.
So intense was the fallout that the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, was seen hiding from the press to avoid questioning. This would later be lampooned by Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Spicer on the SNL show. A newspaper went as far as saying that Spicer ‘hid in the bushes.’ The paper was later forced to issue a retraction to change ‘in‘ for ‘among.’
Yet, all attempts to protect the President would be swiftly dismantled by the President himself, when he revealed during a TV interview that he targeted Comey over the probe into collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign.
Trump said during the interview that ‘this Russia thing‘ was one of the reasons he fired Comey, adding that the whole Russia issue was a ‘made-up story.’ This revelation pretty much destroyed whatever little credibility the White House had managed to hold on to up to this point. To add insult to injury, Trump referred to Comey as “a showboat” and “grandstander.” Both the press and the Trump camp were left aghast at the statement.
Architect of his own demise: Trump reveals classified information to Russia
When it comes to torpedoing his own tenancy as President of the United States, nobody does it better than Trump himself.
Still reeling from the Comey scandal, the latest shot under the White House’s waterline came in the form of highly classified intel openly spoken about in the presence of Russian representatives.
The top secret material, relating to an intelligence operation against ISIS, was discussed in plain English during a meeting between Trump and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Trump was on a roll at the time. The fateful meeting took place less than 24 hours after the termination of FBI Director Comey.
The White House, and the intelligence community as a whole, was left speechless after Trump’s blunder. The President’s basic competence was quickly called into question.
Trump’s fundamental ignorance about history is well documented. The President, a self-confessed TV addict, openly admitted that he believed Frederick Douglass to be still alive and that ‘he is doing an amazing job,’ for example. And he has also made some bizarre comments about the Civil War.
But despite these obvious academic shortcomings, one would think that Trump, as a security-obsessed American and as President, would have enough intellect to mind his mouth when it comes to matters of national security. Not so, apparently. The untold damage caused by the security breach is likely to ‘cost American lives,’ according to security analysts.
Obstruction of Justice and possible impeachment
It is hard to see Trump’s alleged attempts to meddle into the Flynn investigation first, and then into the probe of whether or not Russia had any role to play in the presidential election, as anything other than interfering into the FBI’s and Department of Justice’s dealings with these matters.
Comparisons have been drawn between these issues and the Watergate, the scandal that culminated in Richard Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974, days before an imminent impeachment.
Back then, journalists and law enforcement organizations untangled a complicated trail of illicit activities that led all the way to the White House.
With the scandal out in the open, Nixon and a few other top political associates were accused of obstruction of justice, after it emerged that Nixon planned to use the CIA to stop an impending investigation by the FBI.
Nixon was pushed into a corner, and with the threat of impeachment looming closer, he chose to resign. Though later pardoned for his involvement in the shady affair, the Watergate legacy stayed with Nixon until his death in 1994.
Impeachment proceedings have been initiated against several US presidents, though only two -Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton- have ever been successfully impeached.
There are now sufficient grounds to impeach the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, in light of his alleged intervention in the FBI’s affairs, and the recent alleged leak of classified information.
The seventh trumpet is about to blow for Mr. Trump.