today in black history

June 16, 2024

Author John Howard Griffin, who posed as a Black man for his seminal book on southern racism,"Black Like Me," was born in 1920.

A Trumpload of Lies

POSTED: May 12, 2017, 7:00 am

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Why now?
That is the essential question the American public should be asking President Trump in the wake of his abrupt firing of James Comey as the director of the F.B.I. Having repeatedly praised Comey, Trump’s firing of the F.B.I. head comes as investigations are underway to probe possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian agents. Comey’s dismissal is all the more suspect given reports that the FBI Director just last week informed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of the need for additional resources to expand the scope of the Russia investigation.

The dismissal of Comey has the stench of a cover-up. The tortured explanations that Trump spokespersons have offered change from day-to-day. The administration’s dysfunction is evident in how press secretary Sean Spicer hid with staff members behind bushes on the grounds of the White House to avoid speaking to reporters. If that wasn’t enough to raise eyebrows, Spicer then commanded video cameras to go dark when speaking to the press. To make matters even worse, if that’s even possible – though this administration is proving it so, Spicer was missing-in-action at Wednesday’s press briefing. He conveniently fulfilled his military reserve obligations while a constitutional crisis was breaking out in the White House. In his place, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders proved just as adroit at double-speak, provoking more questions than providing answers.

The president’s suggestion that he was thinking for months about ending Comey’s tenure as head of the FBI is not credible. What is even less credible is Trump’s claim that the basis of his terminating Comey was the director’s bungling of the investigation over Hillary Clinton’s emails. If President Trump was truly troubled by Comey’s leadership as far back as July, as suggested by spokesperson Sanders, after the president was inaugurated he should have made the dismissal of the director a priority. He did not. What changed between January and this week was the notification by Comey that he needed to expand the scope of the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The administration is lying to such a degree that it can’t keep track of its lies. The first storyline was that Comey’s dismissal was precipitated by the memorandum prepared by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That was the company line offered by Vice President Pence, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. That lie had to be walked back when it was leaked that Rosenstein threatened to quit if the administration made him the scapegoat. The next iteration of the story had the president upset for months with the leadership of Comey, all the way back to the summer months of the presidential campaign. Yet, there is ample evidence, in the president’s own words, that over the last six months he deemed Comey courageous and praised the director. Still, at the press briefings on both Wednesday and Thursday, the deputy press secretary insisted that the president had been mulling over firing Comey for some time.

Then again, this is the same spokesperson who claimed to have heard from many staff inside the FBI that had lost confidence in director Comey. Her assertion was roundly dismissed by Acting Director Andrew McCabe during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill. McCabe insisted that Comey was held in high regard and enjoyed “broad support” inside the FBI and went on to express his admiration for the fired director and his appreciation for having served under him. What further strains the Trump White House’s credibility is Sanders statement that she is in communication with staff inside the FBI. If this is true, and I have my doubts, it is a breach of protocol and possibly an attempt to undermine a pending investigation. When pressed by a correspondent at Thursday’s press briefing over the type and extent of her contact with FBI staff, Sanders indicated texts and calls, and could only offer “dozens” as her response in term of the number of contacts.

Lurking in the shadows of the swamp is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who inserted himself in the middle of Comey’s termination, despite having recused himself from involvement in the investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sessions behavior suggests obstruction and should warrant the attention of congressional leaders.

What we have now is a government on the verge of collapse. What will likely push it over the edge is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s petulant insistence on partisanship over statesmanship. There is no possibility that anything resembling civic duty will come from the Majority Leader. He has proven to be a threat to our democracy, and not only unwilling but incapable to see beyond his personal prejudices. It should be a source of embarrassment for all Americans that at a time of great national crisis and public anxiety, the leadership of the Senate has its head stuck in the muck of the nation’s capital.

The drip is becoming a steady stream, and if the last three days is any indication, the Trump administration is about to unleash a torrent of opposition that will ultimately lead to its undoing.

Walter Fields is Executive Editor of

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