Living in a Fox-Limbaugh-Breitbart fantasy

Opinion

By William H. Freivogel

 

Many Americans are living in a fantasy world constructed by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart News and right-wing bloggers.

In this fantasy world:

  1. President Donald Trump has more credibility than James B. Comey, the man he fired as FBI director.
  2. Comey has perjured himself by first testifying he wasn’t ordered to drop any investigation into Trump associates and then testifying last week that Trump asked him to drop the criminal investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
  3. It is Comey, not Trump, who committed a crime, leaking his contemporaneous notes of Trump’s request to drop the investigation.
  4. Comey has cleared the president of obstruction of justice.
  5. And then there was the surreal cabinet meeting at which, Trump said he was just about the most successful president in history and his cabinet and staff kowtowed with statements of how blessed they were to work for him.

Now take off those Fox-colored glasses and re-enter the reality.

  1. Comey is a truthteller. Trump has lied more over a short time than any president in history.

Comey – a registered Republican longer than Trump – has lived the life of a straight-arrow lawyer and law enforcement official. As George W. Bush’s deputy attorney general he rushed to John Ashcroft’s hospital bedside to make sure the White House didn’t pressure the ill attorney general to reauthorize a warrantless surveillance program the Justice Department thought was illegal.

In the rare instance where Comey makes a factual mistake in testimony, he quickly corrects the record.

Meanwhile when Trump lies, he refuses to admit it – think Obama wiretap charges.

Most Americans get this. A YouGov poll shows 46 percent of Americans believed Comey was more trustworthy and 26 percent Trump. But in the alternative media universe inhabited by Trump voters, 70 percent thought Trump more trustworthy as compared to 7 percent who believed Comey.

  1. Comey did not lie or perjure himself. That false news story began with right-wing conspiracy theorist, Jack Posobiec, who styles himself a White House correspondent. In the weeks before last fall’s election, it was Posobiec who spread the dangerous nonsense about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of the back rooms of Comet Pizza in Washington, D.C.

This time, Posobiec tweeted that in testimony in early May Comey had “said under oath that Trump did not ask him to halt any investigation.”

Actually, Comey had been asked if “the attorney general or senior officials at the Department of Justice” had ever tried to halt an investigation. He said no. He was not asked if Trump had asked him to halt an investigation. So when he testified last week that the president had asked him to drop the investigation of Flynn, he was not contradicting earlier testimony.

Facts be damned; the Posobiec tweet ricocheted through conservative media. The New York Times traced its path. Breitbart published a story headlined: “Comey Under Oath: ‘Have Not Experienced Any Requests to Stop FBI Investigations.’” GotNews.com, a Trump favorite that has distorted reports on the Russia investigation, upped the ante by suggesting Comey may have perjured himself.

InfoWars, run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, picked up the perjury angle. Jones is the “journalist” who says 9/11 was a U.S. black bag job and that no children died at the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre. Then Limbaugh read the GotNews.com article on air and called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt.” And Fox’s Sean Hannity picked up the story, claiming it showed Comey himself had admitted the Trump request to drop the Flynn investigation “never happened.”

  1. Comey did not commit a crime by leaking his notes of the Trump meeting.

Comey acknowledged the leak without hesitation during testimony. This is not an illegal leak, such as revealing classified information. The memo was not classified and did not contain national security secrets. Comey’s leak of the memo is better understood as whistleblowing than leaking.

https://lawfareblog.com/sharing-memos-comey-did-nothing-wrong-former-official-and-everything-right-whistleblower

  1. Comey never said Trump was not under investigation for obstruction of justice.

On last Sunday’s “This Week” program, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, who moonlights as a Fox legal analyst, challenged the credibility of Comey and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and baldly asserted “it was made very clear from the FBI director on multiple occasions that the president had not been and was not under investigation for obstruction of justice.”

In fact it wasn’t clear or even implied. Comey declined to make a conclusion about obstruction of justice, properly leaving that legal judgment to Mueller. “I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the President was an effort to obstruct,” he testified. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to what the intention was there and whether that’s an offense.”

Comey said he had leaked his memo to trigger the appointment of a special counsel. So the gist of Comey’s testimony was the opposite of Sekulow’s claim. Rather than saying the president is not under investigation for obstruction, Comey made it clear he thought the act was so disturbing that there needed to be a special counsel to investigate the president on possible obstruction. In other words, even though the White House ballyhooed the claim that Comey had cleared Trump, Comey’s testimony strongly suggest Mueller is investigating the president for possible obstruction.

As former Watergate prosecutor Philip Allen Lacovara wrote in the Washington Post, “Any experienced prosecutor would see….a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.”

Trump puts Comey’s job in play, demands loyalty, repeatedly asks him to remove the cloud of the Russia investigation, asks him to drop the Flynn criminal investigation, reportedly asks intelligence chiefs to intervene with Comey, fires Comey because of the Russia investigation and tells the Russians the firing relieves the pressure of the investigation.

Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who is Fox’s favorite commentator of late, claims the president can shut down any investigation he wants and can fire anybody he wants because he is totally in charge of the executive branch. This may have been the case before Watergate, but the Supreme Court rejected that view in 1988 in saying it was not “so central to the functioning of the executive Branch” for the president to be able to torpedo investigations of himself and aides. https://lawfareblog.com/view-supreme-court-alan-dershowitz-wrong-about-powers-president

  1. A cabinet meeting like no other.

The most surreal moment of the week, however, was not the made up charges of the right-wing media, but rather the actual video of Trump’s first full cabinet meeting.

The president who has yet to get a major bill through the GOP Congress, bragged “Never has there been a president, with few exceptions…who has passed more legislation….” As cabinet and staff heaped praise on Trump, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’s comment stood out as he thanked Trump for “the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda.”

In the real world, one of those blessings was Trump’s reported ultimatum that Priebus had until July 4 to clean up the White House’s dysfunctional staff. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/11/donald-trump-reince-priebus-deadline-239411

 

  • Libertys_Ghost

    And fancy me a reply to this point to the apparent bias of a “Comey” and the MSM that seems to linger in hope on every word he says that they might finally destroy the duly elected President of the US and once again pat themselves on the back “Watergate style” in some romanticized intellectual orgy.

    HRC and her staff literally admitted to destroying thousands of emails and admitted to being aware of a subpoena for those same emails prior to destroying them. That IS literally obstruction of justice…though Comey (for reasons he’s never explained) gave out immunity deals like candy to the crew.

    Where was the outrage? There was so much LITERAL evidence of crimes committed during that whole affair yest Comey claims “no reasonable person” would file charges? Aside from being completely against FBI protocol (as his Assistant Director has since wrote explaining) in so many ways, no person other than someone watching the “hate Trump” movie could sit back with the pile of instances like this and claim Comey is any more honest or trustworthy than Trump. It’s just a horribly misguided claim. Law doesn’t define “trustworthiness”…but the court of public opinion does.

  • Libertys_Ghost

    I’m just going to ignore the attempts at misdirection here…but are we talking about the original purpose of the testimony and Comey’s “investigation” or the new purpose as it’s morphed into “obstruction of justice” when no evidence was ever actually provided to support all the supposed ‘leaks from official sources’ the media elites and their current favorite (never Trump) POLS promoted for months and months…it just gets silly after awhile.

    The larger point I’m going to present, and hope you might consider, is spoke to a bit in these two articles of different flavors.

    You are watching one movie, and the other half of America is watching another. You are no more objective watching CNN or reading Wash Po or NYT than they are using the sources they consume. You just have a dissonance making it impossible for you to see otherwise.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/157149611381/good-example-of-our-two-movie-reality

    This is a bit more “erudite” while remaining blunt and unwavering concerning the current disaster we are watching unfold as not a semblance of leadership can be found in “the establishment” or otherwise. Humor me and take a read…though I know it’s cynical, it’s a more objective approach to this grand theater of the absurd.
    http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/moby-trump/

    So my point is, and others I might say, is that no one side seems to have any monopoly on “objectivity” at this point. It does no service to pretend your movie is “truth” and the other is entirely “fiction”…perception matters as well as bias. I counted 4 stories claiming illegal activities against Trump Co. in the WASHPO in one week that turned out to be completely wrong using “anonymous sources”…this isn’t laziness or just poor journalism, this is partisan journalism at it’s worst and even Harvard came out with a study showing the negative coverage by the MSM toward Trump is much much higher than previous recent administrations recently. And in other news…grass is still green! It’s literally that obvious and if Dems hope at all to win in 2020 they need to do a couple things…have a viable candidate that doesn’t reek of the “status quo” and taxpayer funded corruption, and two, have some sort of platform that expands their voting block instead of just riling up their “base”. It’s as if everyone is willing to cut their noses off to spite their faces.

    Donald Trump will win re-election in 2020 if he keeps his base, because his base largely came from independents rather than “die hard conservatives”. There are no signs his base is abandoning him. There isn’t a candidate anywhere on the radar the Democrats could run that will cause life-long Republicans to switch in any significant numbers. Saddling up on the “deep state intelligence” horse (or beside it if you wish) is not a winning strategy for the DNC…I can’t believe I even have to point that fact out. You realize who the DNC base is, right? The two “images” of “change” VS “CIA/FBI/etc etc” that the DNC currently tries to force together in some coherent way will not energize any thinking humans to vote for them next time around. Outside of the Presidency the DNC has been destroyed in election after election for over a decade. They do not present any significant way of changing that. For “Bernie supporters” I know…they see the DNC and establishment going after Trump the way the DNC conspired WITH members of the MSM to destroy Bernie’s primary run…and they say, “that’s a real example of collusion I can prove…why isn’t anyone talking about or investigating that?”. People aren’t stupid.

    The following point was made quite succinctly in a comment on the last article I linked. “People are so enraged and angered by the election result that they won’t be patient, wait, and let Trump hang himself. Instead they are busy trying to frame a guilty man; and making a dogs meal of it.”

    The constant barrage of attacks from what is popularly considered among independents an ‘establishment media’ MAKES Donald Trump appear as the victim. This is really mass PSYC 101 stuff. Legacy news media appears to be either too scared to challenge each other and stop trying to outdo the other in attacking him, or they really are the group think nightmare pawns of the elites they’ve been made out to be.