The pundits and politicians were out in force this weekend, eager to weigh in on what former FBI head James Comey’s firing means for the Trump administration moving forward. As the Democrats lick their chops and members of the GOP scramble to kill any question of controversy, it’s a good time to take a look behind the headlines.
The latest news and commentary surrounding what is likely to become a bigger scandal indicate that Trump, FBI and Russia are things we’re going to be hearing mentioned in the same sentences for quite some time.
POLITICO on Sunday suggested that it may be time for Trump administration insiders to “lawyer up.”
From the piece:
At least some of the people who joined the Trump administration were aware of the legal risks. “I had folks who joined the administration ask that question, which should tell you something,” said Luskin, who previously represented President George W. Bush’s senior political adviser Karl Rove during the investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity, as well as a pair of senior officials during the probe of Clinton’s Whitewater land deals.
A few of the central players in the Trump investigations already have counsel. Former campaign manager Paul Manafort, whose work in Ukraine is under review, has a lawyer, as does former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who last week was served with a subpoena by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Their attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.
Longtime personal Trump tax attorneys from the firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius sent Senate investigators a letter last week detailing some of the president’s business interests tied to Russia. A spokeswoman from the firm declined comment.
Meanwhile, Business Insider is out to discredit the idea that a deep state exists in the U.S.
The outlet reported, discussing Trump supporters’ reaction to the Comey firing:
President Donald Trump’s shocking decision to fire FBI director James Comey on Tuesday set off one of the most tumultuous weeks in his young administration. Critics on both sides of the aisle blasted the president for firing the man who was overseeing an investigation into him and his associates for possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
But Trump’s most dedicated supporters see things a little differently. To them, Trump’s decision to fire Comey was a welcome sign of a democratically-elected president striking back at the American “deep state” — a theory peddled by those on the far-right, which asserts that there is a shadow network of government officials, politicians, and intelligence agents who are covertly working to undermine Trump’s agenda and ultimately overthrow him.
Though there is no credible evidence of an American deep state, talks of it have been widespread on far-right news outlets like InfoWars and Breitbart. They’ve also found a home among notable pundits including Fox News host Sean Hannity, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Steve King of Iowa.
As evidence of their theory, supporters of the idea of an American deep state often point to leaks of classified information, saying that members of the intelligence community are working hand-in-hand with the “mainstream media” in order to take Trump down and install a new leader.
It’s sounding more and more like the Trump administration is going to acknowledge that Russia at least attempted to involve itself in the U.S. election.
As The Los Angeles Times reported:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that the Trump administration is not giving Russia a “free pass” on interference in last year’s U.S. election.
Tillerson, on NBC’s “Meet the Press, was questioned about an assertion by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that the issue was not raised during his talks last week in Washington with the secretary, or at a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.
Tillerson did not directly confirm that Russian election-meddling went unaddressed in the talks, but said “we’re not trying to start with a clean slate” in dealings with Moscow.
“We’re starting with the slate we have, and all the problems that are on that slate,” he said. “We don’t dismiss any of them. We don’t give anyone a free pass on any of them.”
Discussing Russia and the election has become something of a minefield for Trump’s senior aides. The difficulties mounted this past week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey while he was in the midst of overseeing an investigation into Russian interference and the possibility of collusion on the part of people associated with Trump’s campaign.
Trump himself has acknowledged the U.S. intelligence finding that interference occurred, but says its effect cannot be known.
Asked to whether he believes Russian meddling took place, Tillerson said Moscow’s election-linked cyberattacks had been a proven problem for the United States and for other countries as well.
“I think it’s been well documented — it’s pretty well understood, the nature of that interference, here and elsewhere,” he said.
“These are not new tactics on the part of the Russian government,” he said.
And here’s one you’ll want to keep a close watch on. North Korea is now apparently bragging that it has long-range nuclear missile capabilities.
North Korea said on Monday it had successfully conducted a newly developed mid-to-long range missile test on Sunday, supervised by leader Kim Jong Un and aimed at verifying the capability to carry a “large scale heavy nuclear warhead.”
Kim accused the United States of “browbeating” countries that “have no nukes” and warned Washington not to misjudge the reality that its mainland is in the North’s “sighting range for strike,” the North’s official KCNA news agency reported.
The North fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday in a launch that Washington called a message to South Korea, days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
The missile was launched at the highest angle so as not to affect the security of neighbouring countries and flew 787 kilometres (490 miles) reaching an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometres (1,312 miles), KCNA said.
Experts said the altitude reached by the missile tested on Sunday meant it was launched at a high trajectory, which would limit the lateral distance it travelled. But if it was fired at a standard trajectory, it would have a range of at least 4,000 km (2,500 miles), experts said.
“The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead,” KCNA said.