January 26, 2018


Trump Launched Campaign to Discredit Potential FBI Witnesses: The president targeted three bureau officials who could provide key testimony in the Mueller probe. (MURRAY WAAS, JANUARY 26, 2018, 5Foreign Policy)
President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter. [...]

A person with direct knowledge of the matter said although Dowd explained the risks of senior FBI officials joining Comey in testifying against Trump, that information was part of a broader presentation to the president about Mueller's investigation. It is not improper, but in fact is a duty, for an attorney to explain to a client how they are at risk, the source said. What may have been improper, however, were actions Trump took upon learning that information.

Since Dowd gave him that information, Trump -- as well as his aides, surrogates, and some Republican members of Congress -- has engaged in an unprecedented campaign to discredit specific senior bureau officials and the FBI as an institution.

The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey's firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey's chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI's general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.

In the past, presidents have attacked special counsels and prosecutors who have investigated them, calling them partisan and unfair. But no previous president has attacked a long-standing American institution such as the FBI -- or specific FBI agents and law enforcement officials.

Mueller has asked senior members of the administration questions in recent months indicating that prosecutors might consider Trump's actions also to be an effort to intimidate government officials -- in this case FBI officials -- from testifying against him.

The New York Times reported late Thursday that Trump also ordered the firing of Mueller last June. Trump reportedly changed his mind after White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign and two of the president's highest-ranking aides told him that it would have devastating effects on his presidency.

Press reports at the time said there were indications that Mueller was already investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, even though he was only recently appointed.

If we must hold Donald in contempt, which is a function of the capacity to think, then what must we think of those who are so easily duped by him? 

Posted by at January 26, 2018 7:12 PM