Putting out the hits

Foreign Policy reports that last June Trump’s lawyer told him that Comey had talked to other senior FBI officials about Trump’s attempts to pressure Comey, and that Trump has as a result made a concerted effort to discredit them.

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.

Not long after Comey’s Senate testimony, Trump hired John Dowd, a veteran criminal defense attorney, to represent him in matters related to Mueller’s investigation. Dowd warned Trump that the potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials in Comey’s account would likely play a central role in the special counsel’s final conclusion, according to people familiar with the matter.

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.

Round and round and round we go. Trump’s efforts to pressure Comey started days after he was inaugurated, and his efforts to slime McCabe et al. probably began minutes after that conversation with Dowd.

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.

Trump loves to innovate.

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.

Ya think?

I suppose we should be grateful that Trump is stupid enough to do his intimidating on Twitter so that we can all see it. On the other hand…Trump is that stupid. It’s hard to be really grateful for that.

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