Friday, June 9, 2017

The Imperial City Unhinged----J. Edgar Comey's Big Fat Nothingburge - By David Stockman

Comey’s ballyhooed testimony contains nothing not already known, nothing remotely about obstruction of justice, and, in fact, nothing that matters at all. It’s just a replay of the self-serving tommyrot Comey has been leaking all along.
Indeed, it’s the Nothingburger that proves Imperial Washington has become completely unhinged in its groundless RussiaGate hysteria; and is stumbling toward a lawless defenestration of a sitting president in the name of a hypocritical obeisance to a tortured version of “the law”.
It is a smoking gun in only one sense: It proves why the sanctimonious Comey should have been fired on day one and why the apparent Wall Street assumption that it can count on “Washington governance as usual” is so dangerously misguided.
As to the latter, our point is very simple. What we have is an entirely unstable, unsustainable hothouse economy and financial system that is completely dependent upon the ministrations of the state and its central banking branch. The giant bubble that was reflated after the 2008 crisis will soon violently implode and take the economy down with it—-unless it is again arrested and bailed-out by extraordinary Washington action.
But this time there is no one home on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue and no beltway bailout brigade at the ready. To the contrary, today’s Senate show trial proves that the Imperial City is descending irretrievably into unprecedented dysfunction and political fratricide. The very fact of today’s farce is reason itself to run, not walk, from the feckless insouciance of the casino.
But to get this all in context, let’s start with the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing itself and its sad sack chairman, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. When it comes to treacherous betrayal, we’d just as soon go with Aaron (Burr).

The Senator knows full well that there is nothing to the Russia meddling story because if there was any kind of documentary proof it would have leaked long ago. But he is such a spineless deck-hand of the national security apparatus that he is willingly conducting today’s installment of the Imperial City’s anti-Russian witchunt.
The sum and substance of RussiaGate, in fact, is the evidence-free assessments, judgments, surmises, inferences and innuendos of Deep State operatives who have been dead set against Donald Trump from the very beginning; and who were given leave during the campaign and transition by Obama’s top national security advisors—–the despicable duo of Susan Rice and John Brennan—-to blatantly abuse the Spy State’s tools and machinery to smear and besmirch the Donald and challenge the fundamental legitimacy of his election.
That brings us to J. Edgar Comey. From the very beginning with his backhanded acquittal of Hillary last July, he has conducted himself as FBI Dictator, not director.
As the Wall Street Journal editorial page noted about Comey’s repeated whinny invocations of the FBI’s “traditionally independent status in the executive branch,”
Independent? This is a false and dangerous view of law enforcement in the American system. Mr.. Comey is describing an FBI director who essentially answers to no one. But the police powers of the government are awesome and often abused, and the only way to prevent or correct abuses is to report to elected officials who are accountable to voters. A director must resist intervention to obstruct an investigation, but he and the agency must be politically accountable or risk becoming the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover.
This whole “independence” meme is a smokescreen for the man’s relentless self-aggrandizement. That was evident in Comey’s statement about his first encounter with the President-elect on January 6th at Trump Tower with respect to the Christopher Steele “dossier”.
There was absolutely no reason of state for that presentation except to conduct a devious exercise in political intimidation. Certainly it was not even remotely a valid or necessary heads-up about a national security matter to the incoming occupant of the Oval Office.
Taking Trump aside for a private one-on-one, Comey had the gall to serve up that unvetted and unverified garbage when he knew full well that it had been paid for by Trump’s political opponents—first the Romney apparatus and then Hillary Clinton’s operatives.
And he also knew that the “salacious and unverified” document, as he described it, was not in any way, shape or form a national security document or product of an FBI investigation. To the contrary, it was a raw political attack screed that he been handed over to the FBI by one of Trump’s most vicious opponents—-Senator John McCain.
So the January 6th briefing amounted to a deliberate hazing of the man who had been elected President by the American people. It had nothing to do with counter-intelligence or any other public purpose. Instead, it was a message from the permanent beltway government that “we rule, not you”.
Indeed, as Alan Dershowitz so brilliantly and cogently schooled Anderson Cooper last night, the head of the FBI may have a 10-year term, but he serves at the pleasure of the president, and can be fired by the latter at will. And the president also has the absolute and unequivocal power to tell the Attorney General and the head of the FBI—in the same room or separately—what to investigate and not to investigate.
Furthermore, as Dershowitz also made crystal clear, he could have told Comey that General Flynn had just been pardoned, and that the investigation should be dropped immediately. And by your way, all of that would have been perfectly legal and constitutional.
The proposition that the Attorney General and FBI director operate in some insulated and antiseptic sphere above the president’s authority as head of the executive branch has been  an entirely self-serving invention of the Deep State in the years since Watergate.
But that’s mere custom and practice, not law. It’s the outcome of a rolling putsch under which the permanent government, and the Washington-based apparatchiks and K-Street racketeers who feed off it, have gradually usurped control of American democracy.

In that respect, the three most powerful and destructive institutions within the beltway are the Federal Reserve, the $75 billion Intelligence Community and the Pentagon’s permanent military and civilian bureaucracy. All of them, like Comey, drape themselves in the cover of public spirited “independence” in order to exercise power unimpeded by the unwashed masses and their elected representatives.
The Congressional intelligence committee and the likes of dimwits like Senators Burr and Warner are simply their subservient handmaids. In that role they have enabled the Comey’s and Brennan’s of the world to not only rule the roost, but to feign deep offense and invoke self-created “protocol” if and when they are challenged by elected officeholders.
The fact that this has all been invented during the last few decades is evident on every page of America’s recent and distance history book.
J. Edgar Hoover, for example, had amassed the same “independence” that Comey and his fawning MSM commentariat now claim. But Hoover was a menace to liberty and his arbitrary campaigns against citizens like Martin Luther King were a blight on the institutions of American democracy.
Is the garbage in the Steele dossier any different than Hoover’s tawdry collection of blackmail?
Likewise, was JFK brought under a cloud of suspicion for undermining the sacred independence of the Justice Department when he made his brother Attorney General?
What about when Nixon appointed his law partner to the job? Or when Ronald Reagan appointed as Attorney General a nice man, William French Smith, who was the husband of Nancy’s shopping companion?
As the Wall Street Journal also correctly observed, the “remarkable presumptuousness of the Comey mindset” and the false claim of high-minded independence behind it was evident during the campaign.
When it served his craving for the limelight, Comey broke the purportedly sacred DOJ “protocol” to absolve Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material without the involvement of Justice prosecutors or even telling then Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Mr. Comey’s disregard for the chain of legal command is why Mr. Trump was right to fire him, whatever his reasons.
Well, yes, and something more. The January 6th presentation of the Steele “dossier” to Trump was an outright act of Hoover-style blackmail by the FBI director; and a ringing statement that the phony “Russian meddling” narrative would be used against the White House whenever it suited the purposes of Comey and the Deep State he represented.
And that gets us to the heart of Comey’s big fat Nothingburger. As we have repeatedly insisted, General Mike Flynn was a fairly dangerous hawk, nut-job and Islamophobe who should never have been made director of the national security council. But in trying to open a back channel to the Kremlin through Ambassador Kislyak at the end of December, he did absolutely nothing wrong.
In fact, it was small potatoes compared to Kissinger’s use of a KBG agent as a back channel during the December 1968 transition. And it can’t hold a candle to the blatant Logan-act violation of Ronald Reagan’s team when they promised the Iranians a more attractive deal if the released the hostages on inauguration day (which they did), rather than before the election (which was Jimmy Carter’s planned “October Surprise”).
Yet in the end, Flynn got fired for trying to make peace with Russia—-a nation that is no threat to America and which has every reason to take umbrage at NATO’s encroachment on its very borders.
When Flynn was fired on February 13, in fact, Trumped praised him fulsomely and offered no plausible reason for his dismissal because there wasn’t one. The Donald and his greenhorn team had simply panicked in the face of the RussiaGate hysteria generated by the Deep State and amplified and propagated by the mainstream media.
So the bottom line was simple. The Donald had a guilty conscience for firing someone who had loyally supported him during the campaign when the entire neocon foreign policy establishment was heaping abuse upon him from every direction.
Accordingly, the Donald made the plaintive request to the FBI director, who serves at his pleasure, to go easy on the blameless, short-lived director of the national security council.
The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, 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 replied only that “he is a good guy.” . . . 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.
This is obstruction of justice?
No, it’s an Imperial City that has become unhinged by the hysteria of RussiaGate.
And if you are not yet convinced that the whole thing is a cock-and-bull story, just consider the latest piece of evidence about the breathless stories of two months ago when the Macron campaign was allegedly hacked by the Russians, too. His populist opponent, Marine Le Pen, had also said it was time to have a rapprochement with Putin.
Right on schedule, here was the election-eve story from the NYT under the ominous title: “Russian Hackers Who Targeted Clinton Appear to Attack France’s Macron:
The campaign of the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been targeted by what appear to be the same Russian operatives responsible for hacks of Democratic campaign officials before last year’s American presidential election, a cybersecurity firm warns in a new report.
The report has heightened concerns that Russia may turn its playbook on France in an effort to harm Mr. Macron’s candidacy and bolster that of Mr. Macron’s rival, the National Front leader Marine Le Pen, in the final weeks of the French presidential campaign.
Actually, the whole story was a  crock. Here’s the truth of the matter from the head of France’s own cyber security agency:
The head of the French government’s cyber security agency, which investigated leaks from President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, says they found no trace of a notorious Russian hacking group behind the attack.
In an interview in his office Thursday with The Associated Press, Guillaume Poupard said the Macron campaign hack “was so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”
He said they found no trace that the Russian hacking group known as APT28, blamed for other attacks including on the U.S. presidential campaign, was responsible.
As we said, buckle up. There is one bumpy ride ahead.
 Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.
Former Congressman David A. Stockman was Reagan's OMB director, which he wrote about in his best-selling book, The Triumph of Politics. His latest book is The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America. He's the editor and publisher of the new David Stockman's Contra Corner. He was an original partner in the Blackstone Group, and reads LRC the first thing every morning.
Copyright © 2017 David Stockman
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