Comey Testimony Posted: ‘I hope you can let this go.’
Breaking News, Featured Story, Foreign Policy, Russia, The Latest News

Comey Testimony Posted: ‘I hope you can let this go.’

Canada Says It’s Time ‘To Set Our Own Clear and Sovereign Course’

Don’t count on the U.S. Canada’s foreign affairs minister delivered a stinging rebuke of Trump and his conduct of foreign affairs as she outlined a go-it-alone foreign and military policy for the country.  Minister Chrystia Freeland didn’t mention Trump by name in a speech Tuesday, but she stressed the importance of NATO and trade agreements, which Trump has disparaged. She said Canada will increase its military spending and its activities in international organizations as the United States is stepping back from its international role. “The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course,” Freeland said. She echoed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remark that Canada was “deeply disappointed” over Trump’s decision last week to take the United States out of the Paris accord on climate change. Freeland also said that Canada would continue to “strongly support” multinational organizations like NATO, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. And she emphasized the government’s desire to expand relations with Europe, which recently signed a free-trade pact with Canada.

AG Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation (DOJ video grab)

Trump-Kremlin updates. Trump has been rejected by the nation’s top law firms for legal help in the ongoing probe into Russian meddling in our country’s election. Top attorneys were worried Trump wouldn’t take their advice. Trump is also having friction with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an early supporter. Sessions offered to resign. Former FBI Director James Comey, who told Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump, is expected to testify Thursday.  In a related matter, a 25-year-old NSA contractor was arrested on Tuesday for passing along a top-secret document revealing Russian hacking of the 2016 election to The Intercept. Reality Lee Winner was charged with violating the Espionage Act.

Comey’s Testimony Posted

Fired FBI Director James Comey’s statement to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been posted online. Some highlights:

“I felt compelled to document my first [Jan. 6] conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward.”

“A few moments later [at a Jan. 27 dinner in the White House], the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence…. Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. ”

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn {at a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office], saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.”

Healthcare for all. Nevada’s legislature just passed a bill that would let anyone in Nevada sign up for Medicaid, the federal insurance program for our nation’s poor and disabled. The bill won’t become law unless Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, signs it. In Ohio, Anthem is pulling out of the individual market offered through the Affordable Care Act, leaving 18 counties without an insurer. Anthem has also told patients in Georgia, Missouri and Kentucky that they could end up paying for emergency room visits starting July 1 if Anthem decides the visits weren’t for actual emergencies.

CNN video grab

$110 billion fake news. The much-ballyhooed announcement to sell $110 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia turns out to be hot air. The “intended sales” are potential deals that began under former President Barack Obama. This includes the proposed sale of four frigates, an air defense system, and 150 Black Hawk helicopters.  “What the Saudis and the administration did is put together a notional package of the Saudi wish list of possible deals and portray that as a deal,” wrote Bruce Riedel for the Brookings Institution. “Even then the numbers don’t add up. It’s fake news.” The deal was said to have been brokered by son-in Jared Kushner. Saudis probably also couldn’t pay for the arms deal because of low oil prices and the war in Yemen.

June 7, 2017