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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

And more from James Comey's book

I'm still reading the book by former FBI director, James Comey, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. I've not yet reached the part about Trump, but the bit I've just read was really interesting.

In 2004, James Comey was the DAG, the deputy attorney general at the DOJ, as Rod Rosenstein is now, and like Rosenstein, he was the acting general (his boss, John Ashcroft, was ill). At that time, Bob Mueller, presently the Special Counsel investigating Russian interference in our elections, was the head of the FBI, and Ted Olson, the conservative lawyer who argued for marriage equality before the Supreme Court, the lawyer who most recently turned down a job offer from Trump, was then the US Solicitor General.

And also at that time, the Bush administration was trying to renew a controversial NSA warrantless surveillance program known of as Stellar Wind. The Department of Justice had just learned that it hadn't been fully informed of the domestic reach of the program and the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel decided the program wasn't legal and that it shouldn't be renewed. Comey refused to reauthorize the program, which led to a dramatic confrontation. Here's a bit about it from a story in The L.A. Times ...

Comey, Mueller and the showdown at John Ashcroft's hospital bed

[...] In March 2004, Comey, then deputy attorney general, was summoned to the hospital bed of his boss, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft.

Ashcroft, weak from gallbladder surgery, was under pressure from White House officials Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card to sign papers reauthorizing the domestic surveillance program secretly launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ashcroft's wife was distraught about the visit from the White House counsel and chief of staff, according to testimony Comey later gave to a Senate committee.

She called Comey to stop the uninvited visitors. Just the previous week, her husband had agreed not to reinstate the program.

Comey called in help, asking Mueller, then the FBI director, and several top aides to meet him at the hospital.

It was the start of a battle between the Justice Department and the White House. According to Comey, the White House renewed the program the next day without his approval.

Since the White House had ignored the department's legal advice, Comey, Mueller and several other officials made plans to resign. It was only when President George W. Bush agreed to listen to Comey and Mueller and restructure the program did resignation plans go away ...

One of the people Comey called in to help and to be a witness to what was going on was Olson.

I makes me angry that the Trump administration - especially Trump himself and Sarah Sanders - have been trying so hard to smear James Comey, his service in government, and his book. All I've learned about Comey shows him to be an honest and responsible person who has always tried to do the right thing, irrespective of politics. This episode from 2004 is an example of that dedication.


Blogger Jana said...

I agree -- thanks for posting this!

3:07 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks, Jana.

3:34 PM  

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