Current director of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement previously sold Microsoft counterfeits

Who vets hiring and recruitment in the Prince George’s County government?

Long before he became director of the Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE), but while working for the county, Haitham Hijazi and his relatives were in business selling counterfeit Microsoft products.

Hijazi had already become chief of the county’s engineering services. In 1994, he was promoted to associate director of the Department of Public Works and Transportation’s office of engineering. In 1995, in federal court, Microsoft sued Hijazi, his wife, other relatives, and their companies engaged in selling Microsoft knock-offs, and won. See case linked here and here.

The lawsuit, titled Microsoft Corp. v. Grey Computer, et al., was filed December 21, 1995, in Baltimore (United States District Court, Southern District of Maryland). The published ruling can be found in LexisNexis. (910 F. Supp. 1077, Civ. A. No. AW 94-221.)

Plaintiff’s attorneys were Preston, Gates, now after mergers named K & L Gates.

The defendants were Grey Computer, Inc., owned and controlled by the Hijazis; Haitham Hijazi; his wife, Adieba Hijazi; Bilal Hijazi; Husim Hijazi; and Integrated Computers Electronic, Inc., another Maryland corporation owned and controlled by the Hijazi family.

The memorandum opinion by Judge Alexander Williams, Jr., lays out the case with laudable clarity:

Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) instituted this civil action against Grey Computer, Inc. (“Grey”), Integrated Computer Electronic, Inc. (“ICE”), Intelligent Data Systems (“IDS”) and their respective principals.[1] Microsoft claims that Defendants infringed upon their copyrights and trademarks by selling or distributing counterfeit copies of Microsoft’s software products.

Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Williams had served as a States Attorney, a public defender, and a Juvenile Master in P. G. He became a federal judge the same year Haitham Hijazi became a public official in the P. G. County Office of Engineering.

Opening of DPIE

From the county press release announcing Hijazi’s appointment as director of the newly created DPIE:

Earlier in his government career, Dr. Hijazi served as the Associate Director of DPW&T’s Office of Engineering from July 1994 – October 2004; and, prior to that, he was the Chief of the Engineering Services Division within the Office of Engineering.  Before joining Prince George’s County Government, Dr. Hijazi was the Chief Engineer and Operations Manager for Light, Elliot and Associates, a private engineering consulting firm located in Adelphi, Maryland.

Microsoft discovered the counterfeits:

On 31 January 1994, Microsoft commenced this action by filing its Complaint against Grey Computer, ICE and their respective principals, among others. In its original complaint Microsoft alleged copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition arising out of the Defendants’ purported sale of counterfeit copies of Microsoft’s software products. On 1 February 1994, Microsoft personnel accompanied the U.S. Marshal Service as it executed a Writ of Seizure and Impound issued by this Court against Grey and ICE. Consequently, Microsoft obtained information indicating that Grey and ICE were involved in unauthorized distribution of counterfeit versions of Microsoft MS-DOS and Windows software products. Such information included a recently arrived shipment of approximately 1,000 units of alleged counterfeit Microsoft software products from Direct Wholesale. The information also included business records of Grey and ICE which confirmed that Direct Wholesale was the source of supply for the seized units of unauthorized Microsoft software products.

Microsoft then went farther back up the distribution pipeline:

On 2 February 1994, Microsoft filed its First Amended Complaint adding Direct Wholesale as a party defendant and obtained a Supplemental Writ of Seizure and Impound against Direct Wholesale. On 4 February 1994, the U.S. Marshal, accompanied by Microsoft’s attorneys, seized a box of eighteen diskettes containing Microsoft Windows software and along with various business records from Direct Wholesale. The records suggested that Direct Wholesale distributed counterfeit Microsoft software products nationally, as well as to Grey and ICE. The records, some of which were cryptically coded, also indicated that Direct Wholesale purchased and distributed unauthorized Microsoft software products in an unusual and suspicious manner. The seizures eventually revealed that Direct Wholesale purchased and distributed approximately 45,848 units of counterfeit Microsoft software products. Thereafter Microsoft filed another amended complaint adding Direct Wholesale’s sole shareholders and officers, Dewitt Williams and Timothy Mazoch, as party defendants.

Microsoft also won its amended case against the other individuals and another company involved in the production and sale of Microsoft knock-offs, moving for

summary judgment on issues of liability and damages against Direct Wholesale, Dewitt Williams and Timothy Mazoch (collectively “Defendants”). It also seeks a permanent injunction to prevent Defendants from further distributing, offering for sale or selling counterfeit computer software bearing Microsoft’s marks.

As Judge Williams summarized the two opposing positions in our adversarial court system,

Microsoft urges that this is a clear cut case of copyright and trademark infringement. Microsoft alleges Defendants distributed counterfeit goods, bearing Microsoft’s marks. Microsoft asserts that Defendants distributed poor quality copies of its copyrighted works and deceived consumers.

 Defendants urge that they were innocent infringers. Williams and Mazoch posit that they conducted Direct Wholesale’s business according to the practices and procedures they learned while working as salesmen/brokers in the computer software field.

The Hijazis and their companies then sued their suppliers. They were able to settle out of court with Microsoft, but the unambiguous court’s ruling enjoined them from selling any more of the pseudo-Microsoft products.

Microsoft subsequently examined about 1,000 units of the seized software. The examination confirmed Microsoft’s suspicions that the software products were unauthorized and counterfeit reproductions of Microsoft software products. ICE and Grey, among others, filed crossclaims and a third-party complaint against Direct Wholesale. Microsoft settled its dispute with ICE, Grey, Adieba Hijazi, Bilal Hijazi, Hiatham Hijazi, Husim Hijazi, Intelligent Data Systems, Inc. and Nasser Faraj. Accordingly, the Court entered separate stipulated permanent injunctions against each of these defendants.

The recovered counterfeits were ordered turned over to Microsoft for destruction.

Based on information it gathered during the seizures and other relevant information, Microsoft moved for summary judgment against Direct Wholesale, Williams and Mazoch on its claims of copyright and trademark infringement, unauthorized distribution, false designation of origin and unfair competition. On 25 September 1995, the Court heard oral argument regarding Microsoft’s and ICE’s motions for summary judgment. Despite notice, Defendants chose not to attend the hearing. For the reasons set forth more fully below the Court will issue a written order granting Microsoft’s and ICE’s motions for summary judgment as to their third-party complaint. The Court will also grant Microsoft’s request for a permanent injunction and will order the impounded counterfeit software products delivered to Microsoft for destruction.

The case seems to have been relatively clear. The defendants did not dispute Microsoft’s ownership “of all of the software products at issue.”

Microsoft has provided the Court with evidence showing that the copyrights in all of the Microsoft products involved were registered with the United States Copyright Office in compliance with the Copyright Revision Act of 1976 and regulations flowing therefrom. See 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq. Microsoft has valid Certificates of Registration for all of its software products. Moreover, it has been and still is the sole owner of all right, title and interest in, and to, the relevant copyrights and Certificates of Registration.

The defendants also did not dispute that “they were involved in copying Microsoft’s software products.”

Defendants Williams and Mazoch admit that from November 1993 through January 1994, ninety to ninety-five percent of their business involved the distribution of software products. While Williams and Mazoch claim that only eighty-five to ninety percent of their software sales involved the distribution of Microsoft software products, the invoices seized from Direct Wholesale indicate that nearly all of its business involved the distribution of counterfeit Microsoft software products during that time period.

Such arguments as the defendants did present were rejected by the court. For example,

Defendants argue that they did not intentionally copy Microsoft’s products. They posit that they had never seen and had no knowledge of Microsoft’s prerequisite licensing practices or of any of the limitations Microsoft imposed upon product distribution.

As the court wrote,

There is no dispute that Williams and Mazoch received the news releases regarding the sale of Microsoft’s software products and the restrictions. Williams and Mazoch are experienced computer software professionals with experience in the software industry dating back to 1989. They both had enough business savvy to engage in a successful, albeit, illegal business venture.

Regarding the thousands of computer products being distributed through ICE, the Hijazis’ company,

Finally, Defendants urge that Microsoft has only presented circumstantial evidence of copying. Defendants contend that there is no factual basis for Microsoft’s conclusion that the various units of software it examined “appeared identical” to Microsoft’s software products. They further contend that when Microsoft seized the software shipment from ICE, it had no way of knowing if the boxes had been previously opened or unsealed. Thus, according to Defendants, Microsoft had no way of knowing if the boxes had been tampered with after leaving Direct Wholesale.

This argument was also rebuffed by the court:

Microsoft counters that the facts of this case coupled with Defendants’ admissions clearly establish that the units shipped by Direct Wholesale and seized at ICE on 1 February 1994 were from Direct Wholesale and were counterfeit. Microsoft directs the Court’s attention to Williams’ statements that Direct Wholesale regularly shipped software products to ICE; that the products were normally shipped out of California; and, that prior to the seized shipment, Direct Wholesale had very little difficulty with ICE in terms of payment. (Williams Dep., p. 48-49).

The Court is satisfied that Microsoft has demonstrated that Defendants were engaged in copying Microsoft’s software products. “Copying can be shown by circumstantial evidence of access to the copyrighted work, and substantial similarity between the copyrighted work and the infringer’s work.” Johnson Controls, 886 F.2d at 1176) (citations omitted). Defendants do not dispute that they had access to Microsoft’s copyrighted work. Nor do they deny the substantial similarity between the seized software and Microsoft’s copyrighted work.

Moreover, nothing in the facts support Defendants’ conspiracy theory that some unidentified person or persons removed the units shipped from Direct Wholesale and replaced them with the seized units. The counterfeit software from Direct Wholesale was seized upon delivery. At no time did anyone other than the United States Marshal’s Service or the court-appointed custodian have possession, custody or control over the counterfeit Microsoft Software Products once they were delivered to ICE. This is self-serving conjecture on the part of Defendants and mere conjecture is not enough to create a genuine issue of material fact sufficient to withstand summary judgment. See Thompson Everett, Inc. v. National Cable Advertising, L.P.,57 F.3d 1317, 1323 (4th Cir.1995).

Indeed, the court found that the companies’ copyright infringement was extensive:

Moreover, Microsoft conducted a thorough examination of the business records seized from Direct Wholesale. See Agranov Declaration. Using sales invoices seized from Direct Wholesale on 4 February 1994, Microsoft was able to determine that Direct Wholesale distributed counterfeit versions of Microsoft’s software products. Based on Microsoft’s depositions of Mazoch and Williams, Microsoft further determined that Direct Wholesale used Allstates Air Cargo for shipping software. The evidence Microsoft provided to the Court is clear and overwhelming that Direct Wholesale distributed tens of thousands of the counterfeit software products.

Commenting that “‘The hallmark of any trademark infringement claim’ is consumer confusion,” the court found that

Defendants’ infringing activities caused consumer confusion. Microsoft’s marks are world renowned and Defendants do not dispute the strength or the distinctiveness of the marks. Defendants also do not, as they cannot, dispute that the marks they used in distributing the counterfeit software products were virtually identical to Microsoft’s marks. Based upon a review of the evidence, including deposition testimony and seized business records, Defendants clearly intended for the consuming public to believe that the marks they used were the valid and incontestable Microsoft marks. Based upon Direct Wholesale’s sales invoices, Defendants achieved their purpose.

In addition to the likelihood of confusion, moreover, the court found that “Microsoft has demonstrated actual confusion.” Prince George’s County’s future director of permitting and inspections was one customer who expressed that he was confused:

According to one consumer, ICE, it believed that it was purchasing bona fide Microsoft computer software from Defendants. Recognizing the deception, ICE has also filed a motion for summary judgment regarding issues of liability and damages. Upon all the evidence, Microsoft is entitled to summary judgment for unfair competition.

Thus during the litigation, ICE (Intelligrated Computers Electronic, Inc.), the Hijazis’ company, basically joined Microsoft’s side. The Direct Wholesale defendants continued to claim that they were innocent infringers. This part of the case, with the court’s opinion, is juicy enough to warrant extended quotation:

The Court disagrees.

The facts indicate that Defendants Williams and Mazoch were very familiar with the software industry at the time they opened Direct Wholesale. Defendants were also familiar with licensing and distribution practices among the industry. They knew Microsoft had specific guidelines regarding licensing and distribution for its software products and they do not deny that they received news releases which outlined Microsoft’s licensing practices.

Defendants knew that Microsoft did not distribute its software without an accompanying personal computer. Indeed, each unit of the purported Microsoft software bore the legend that the software was “for sale only with a new PC”. Yet, Defendants never questioned any of their suppliers. Instead, they turned a blind eye to the business practices of their suppliers and other software manufacturers. This alone is enough to defeat Defendants’ claims that they were innocent infringers. See Microsoft Corp.,872 F.Supp. 1329, 1340-1341 (D.N.J.1994); Little Mole Music v. Spike Investment, Inc.,720 F.Supp. 751, 755 (W.D.Mo.1989).

Yet, even more damaging is Defendants’ very own business records and practices. Direct Wholesale used a cryptic coding system to hide what brand of software product they were selling. When compared with the sales invoices the coding system was easily decipherable, and what Direct Wholesale was masking was counterfeit Microsoft software products.

Williams and Mazoch testified that while A-Tech, Hypertec and Fantasy Unlimited were three suppliers from whom they purchased the counterfeit Microsoft software products, they regularly called their contacts from the different companies using a single company phone number, A-Tech’s. Williams Dep., pp. 20-21. They knew that A-Tech, Fantasy Unlimited and Hypertec were really one operation. Id.; Mazoch Dep., pp. 45, 77-78. In at least one transaction, Direct Wholesale purchased counterfeit Microsoft products from Hypertec and was first instructed to make a certified check payable to Hypertec, then to A-Tech and then to Fantasy Unlimited. Williams Dep., pp. 20-21. Mazoch also testified that he knew that Microsoft had cancelled the licenses of several original equipment manufacturers.

A typical Direct Wholesale transaction involving counterfeit Microsoft products involved a shipping scheme specifically designed to disguise the true nature of the goods that were being purchased and distributed by Direct Wholesale. On every shipping order, Direct Wholesale described the boxes containing the counterfeit software as containing “manuals.” Direct Wholesale also typically paid its California suppliers by wiring cash to the personal bank account of Willie Banks, an Allstates Air Cargo truck driver. Banks then converted the wire transfer to cash or check and paid for the goods when picked up. The pick-up locations was rarely the same for the supplier and Allstates usually called the California supplier to ascertain the exact location. Williams Dep., pp. 17-18. Once he picked up the counterfeit software, Banks placed a Direct Wholesale shipping label on the boxes of “manuals” in order to hide the true origination of the boxes. Mazoch Dep., p. 49. Indeed, according to Williams, during the entire time in which Direct Wholesale sold the counterfeit Microsoft products, it never stored, or even saw, a single unit of the 45,848 units of counterfeit products it distributed. Williams Dep., p. 36.

The Court finds that Defendants intentionally distributed 45,848 units of counterfeit Microsoft software products.

The numbers became rather impressive. The court awarded Microsoft “equitable damages,” a calculation of profits lost based on number of counterfeit products sold.

Per unit profits is “what a willing buyer would have been reasonably required to pay to a willing seller for” the infringing works.

“Direct Wholesale distributed the infringing software products from February 1993 through January 1994.”

The evidence, including Williams’ and Mazoch’s admissions, clearly establishes that Direct Wholesale distributed 660 units of MS-DOS in the period covering the third quarter of the 1993 fiscal year; 2,302 units in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1993; 4,972 units in the first quarter of fiscal year 1994; 7,822 units in the second quarter of fiscal year 1994; and 1,748 units in the third quarter of fiscal year 1994.

Microsoft also seeks damages for lost profits due to Direct Wholesale’s distribution of infringing Windows products. The evidence clearly establishes that, at a minimum, Direct Wholesale distributed 258 units of Windows during the period covering the third quarter of fiscal year 1993; 1,709 units in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 1993; 8,962 in the first quarter of fiscal year 1994; 9,235 units in the second quarter of fiscal year 1994; and, 8,170 units in the third quarter of fiscal year 1994. Direct Wholesale also distributed eight units during the period from February 1993 through January 1994.

Based on the documentation Microsoft submitted to the Court, it suffered $458,454.26 and $838,067.46 in lost profits due to Direct Wholesale’s distribution of counterfeit MS-DOS and Windows, respectively. Microsoft’s total loss for both products is $1,296,521.72. Microsoft sustained this loss due to Defendants’ willful violation of the Lanham Act.

As noted, the Hijazis’ company was a regular paying customer for these products: “From 23 July 1993 through 27 December 1993, ICE paid Direct Wholesale $195,773.63 for the purported Microsoft software to use in its PC sales.” Again,

Microsoft directs the Court’s attention to Williams’ statements that Direct Wholesale regularly shipped software products to ICE; that the products were normally shipped out of California; and, that prior to the seized shipment, Direct Wholesale had very little difficulty with ICE in terms of payment. (Williams Dep., p. 48-49).

Integrated Computer Electronics, Inc., thus paid almost $200,000 for the Microsoft knock-offs in one six-month period.

Integrated Computer Electronics was incorporated in the state of Maryland in 1992. It is now listed as “Not in Good Standing” in the state corporations database (under “Integrated Computers Electronics”). The name changed in 2002 to Stallion Technology, Inc., with Adieba Hijazi, Haitham Hijazi’s wife, as president. It has forfeited its registry in the state corporations database at least three times for not filing required documents. The company with the very similar name and sharing one of the Hijazis’ business addresses is also listed as “Forfeited” in the Maryland database, INTEGRATED COMPUTER CONCEPTS, INC., formed in 1987. “Grey Computer” is not listed in the Maryland state database.

Emailed and telephoned requests for comment to Hijazi’s office have not been returned. There is no indication in county records that Hijazi as a public servant was questioned about his side businesses, even after Microsoft sued him individually and through his family’s companies in federal court. Nor were questions raised about Hijazi’s expertise in inspecting and permitting, following his six-figure purchases of counterfeit products from fellow defendants Timothy Mazoch and DeWitt Williams. Questions for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s office have also not been returned.

More to come.

 

 

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Have you had work done on your house in Prince George’s County?

This is a new wrinkle. My own house was built c. 1941–smaller rooms than a California-style great-room-type space but fairly high ceilings, brick rather than brick facing, fireplace and some of the original plaster walls. It came from a patriotic period in U. S. history; the style is usually dubbed ‘Washington colonial’, but I call it ‘Federal Revival Revival’.

Thus, several significant construction jobs over the years, including some electrical work and enclosing the back porch with glass. So permits were pulled.

There is no indication of same in the pertinent County website, however.

The County Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement (DPIE) publishes a pamphlet titled Homeowner’s Guide to Permits. Some jobs require a permit in renovation and/or remodeling; others do not. Electrical work that involves installing new outlets requires a permit; so does a patio above grade. Installing a new kitchen counter does not. And so forth. The brochure gives a pretty comprehensive list.

DPIE photo

According to DPIE, the County website can show you the record of your work, that is, through the track of the permits pulled. Web page here, headed “Permit search.” (Type in the ‘code’ below the search boxes.)

Testing the page with my own address and clicking the “Search Permit” box, I was a bit surprised to get a “No Permit Record/s Found !” message.

I had better luck clicking the link for “History By Address” in the drop-down menu. Up top, beneath the “Permit” tab. This time a page turned up with twelve links, all to my address in different jurisdiction names.

They were all for the same permit–pulled in 1986. So County records include nothing on my property since 1986, the year I bought the house? Or nothing online, where they would be accessible?

You could run this simple check on your own residential address. Again, the “Permit Search” page is found here:

https://dpiestatus.princegeorgescountymd.gov/Site/Public/Citizens/CaseSearch.aspx

The more successful “Permit History By Street Address” page is found here:

https://dpiestatus.princegeorgescountymd.gov/Site/Public/Citizens/ActivitySearch.aspx

Some quick checks on other addresses turn up mixed results. The mayor of my town suggested I check his address, so I did; the permit records on his recent jobs actually turned up. (Someone was careful.) One next-door neighbor not; the other some. Other addresses tend to fall into the no-results or no-recent-results categories.

Looking up for example the residential address of the head of DPIE, Haitham Hijazi, turns up multiple links to the address, but all links again are copies of the same record, and no work indicated since 2004.

Looking up the addresses of houses flipped by Integrity Professional Contracting and Secured Improvements LLC, the business entities headed by Mr. Hijazi’s son Abdullah Hijazi, very few show any indication of DPIE permitting. Thus far I have found no records of DPIE permits for renovation work on any of the bought-and-sold houses, except for one property where a fire broke out. There are some records of rental permits applied for and granted.

Over-all, a preliminary check suggests that, for any residential property in P. G., records for rental licenses and in-home business (commercial) licenses are more likely to turn up than are records for construction permits. The permitting website gives no such record for the Hijazi residence, the mailing address for at least two family-owned businesses.

Further calls to Mr. Hijazi’s office have not been returned.

It would be helpful to know how much of this gap in the public record is a website issue. By all accounts, the County website has serious problems. Citizens in the County have a fairly hard time reaching the relevant agency or individual by looking up contact information on the website. People working in County government themselves, including people in the Ethics and Accountability office, are frustrated by the problems. The unreliability and obsolescence of department website information and other web pages stymies anyone’s effort to look up anything and get accurate results. The gaps are the more galling in that P. G. residents have paid for the creation and maintenance of the websites, with the stated aim of improving transparency and accountability and responsiveness in government. I dialed the number for permitting issues given in the pamphlet linked above today–and was re-routed by recorded message to the County’s new 3-1-1 automated line.

Problematic as all this is, there are also other issues beyond technology.

Looks as though the former longtime County worker who called DPIE “the laughingstock of the state” had a point.

More to come.

 

 

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“The most epic and consequential story of the past 40 years”?

On June 19, Politico media reporter Joe Pompeo wrote that New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron “are the two most important newspaper editors in America right now, at a time when the news media are tackling the most epic and consequential story of the past 40 years.”

Concerning the United States’ ‘most important’ newspaper editors, I have no opinion. I try to sidestep argument about which human being is more important than his (usually, his) fellows. For one thing, this is grounds-of-conscience territory. For another, it is in poor taste. (I can be as stuffy as anyone else.) For another, I do not care. Also, ‘most important’ too often translates into ‘stupidest’. Take for example the context of the quoted statement, explained by Pompeo:

 . . . Baquet was being grilled by his own media columnist recently during a sardonically titled talk, “Covering POTUS: A Conversation with the Failing NYT,” when someone in the audience asked: “Better slogan: ‘The truth is more important now than ever,’ or ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness?’”

The former was from a brand campaign the Times kicked off during the Oscars; the latter was the Washington Post’s new motto, an old saying that had been invoked by owner Jeff Bezos in an interview last year with Marty Baron, the Post’s editor.*

Having fun with slogans is a good idea. As part of the new save-journalism movement, I have a couple of NYTimes and WaPo mottos myself. For the Times, how about ‘Judith who?’ For the newspaper I subscribe to, how about ‘Journalism Dies in Stupidity’? Or just ‘We killed the printers’ unions’?

Fun aside, it’s the last part of the quoted sentence that horrifies. Here it is again:

at a time when the news media are tackling the most epic and consequential story of the past 40 years.

There are two realistic explanations for this statement, and only two. The first is that the author really believes we are now in the midst of a story more important than the attacks of September 11, 2001; more important than the non-precedent Supreme Court ruling in Bush v. Gore that gave George W. Bush the White House; more important than the Washington Post Company’s epic and consequential financial stake in the Bush campaign and its ‘education reforms’; more important than the invasion of Iraq and the ensuing Iraq War and the rest of the ensuing carnage in the Middle East.

September 11, 2001

The other is that the author made a thoughtless comment without realizing the implications. I’m hoping for the latter, but even that means some lack of thought about the horror, tragedy, and dishonor blithely swept under the rug.

Backing away somewhat from the bloodshed of 9/11 and the Iraq War, let’s quickly review the past 40 years.

Well, June 19, 1977, featured Led Zeppelin and Elvis in concert. Pass.

Broadening the scope, 1977 and the late 1970s involved the continued unwinding of the Vietnam War, with its continuing suicides, substance abuse and other results of post-traumatic stress disorder, and strain on social services and on communities. The same period also involved climbing out of the recession of 1973-1975, the longest and deepest economic depression since the end of World War II according to the Federal Reserve. The climb was never completed. I recommend Wallace C. Peterson’s Silent Depression, which sounds like a psychology textbook but is actually a work of popular economics. Subtitled Twenty-Five Years of Wage Squeeze and Middle Class Decline, Peterson’s book narrates in persuasive detail some of the changes in the U. S. economy before and after 1973. The immense change was that the economy was expanding before 1973 and contracted afterward. The story can be read in the lives of everyone contemporaneous. We’re still feeling the effects today. We’re still paying for Vietnam, too.

The late 1970s including 1977 also involved the continuing development of U. S. feminism and some advances for women–not in regard to rape and domestic violence, but in the job market and in education. See Gail Collins’ When Everything Changed–the title a bit of an overstatement but the work a good chronological overview, with documentation.

That year and the late seventies also saw the collapse of the job market in higher education. With the draft (Selective Service) over and Vietnam winding down, undergraduate enrollment dropped rapidly. Troubles in the school systems didn’t help. Meanwhile, graduate school enrollment and the graduation of thousands of new Ph.D.’s continued–for a while. One result was that for at least a couple of years, there were some two thousand new Ph.D. grads in English literature and related fields, with not a tenth than many jobs in college teaching. (Someone computed the higher-ed unemployment rate the year I got my doctorate at 83 percent.) The secondary result was that the overflow went largely or partly into ‘adjunct’ teaching in higher education, a set-up again still with us today. This development coincided with the influx of more women into graduate programs, with the natural consequence that adjuncts were and are disproportionately female–especially in the lower-paying disciplines and in lower-division grinding classes. By the way, this entire phenomenon went virtually unreported in U. S. newspapers. The New York Times didn’t touch it for thirty years.

On a brighter note, the major movements of the sixties in environmentalism, civil rights and physical fitness and health more or less continued through the late seventies.

The above is just a thumbnail, only partly tongue-in-cheek, of part of one decade. No reason to go into detail on the Reagan years and other collapses of the eighties or on the continuing promotion of the Clintons and the Bush team in the nineties.

 

*Side note: Amazon head Bezos, who bought WaPo, is reportedly also going to buy the upscale Whole Foods grocery chain. A Whole Foods just opened in my region, to great fanfare about ‘jobs’, as in County Executive Rushern Baker’s touted economic vision of luring big and upscale employers like the Casino to the county. Amazon reportedly plans to automate grocery checkers out of their jobs. To its credit, the Washington Post reported this intent.

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How the Democrats keep losing. 2017, part 4.

How the Democrats keep losing. The most recent addition to this exhibition–probably not the last–is now installed. Georgia’s 6th congressional district went for Republican Karen Handel. In no way was this a surprise, as far as I am concerned. See previous posts on this topic here and here. (Yes, it is time for the I-told-you-so’s.)

The final outcome wasn’t all that much of a squeaker, either. Unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website give Handel 51.87 percent of the vote to Jon Ossoff’s 48.13 percent, a margin of almost four points. The end was apparent by 10 p.m. on election night. Handel won by almost 10,000 votes–a not inconsiderable number in a congressional district.

For further perspective, compare the outcome to that of South Carolina’s special election, the same night. Very similar: the Republican candidate, Ralph Norman, won, and by about the same margin. Unofficial results from the South Carolina State Election Commission give Norman 51.10 percent of the vote to 47.88 percent for Democrat Archie Parnell. If you do the arithmetic with close attention, Parnell did slightly better percentage-wise than Ossoff.

Parnell

In other words, the Democratic candidate in South Carolina did slightly better, though still losing, than the Democratic candidate in Georgia. Is this in spite of the attention paid to ‘flipping’ Georgia during the 2016 election cycle–or because of it?

My working hypothesis is the latter.

More national attention means more money, and more money went to Georgia, as everyone on Earth knows. Googling the phrase ‘the most expensive House race in U.S. history’ turns up 6.5 million results. The non-profit, non-partisan OpenSecrets.org has posted a substantial run-down on dollar amounts as of June 19. As of the day before the special election, at least $56 million had been spent. At that time, the NRCC had spent somewhat more than the DCCC, both pouring millions into the race. The NRCC was playing some catch-up ball; Ossoff was the beneficiary of highly-touted donations and campaign appearances by Hollywood celebrities and others from before the April 18th round of the special election.

But what looks like a national bandwagon of bi-coastal celebrities is not the same as a local landslide. In fact, it is not the same as a local win. It does not translate into a local win.

Even money coming in is not everything.

Compare the money spent on the South Carolina special election to that spent on the Georgia special election. As Open Secrets notes in the same article, by May 31 a grand total of $2.06 million had been raised by Norman and Parnell for the South Carolina race, partly in loans to their campaigns by the candidates themselves. The South Carolina total thus comes to about three percent of the Georgia total.

So–same margin of loss for the Democrats, at three percent of the price? And that’s before the final numbers are all in. There is no reason to expect that the cost ratio of the two elections will narrow after final FEC reports.

Leaning over backward here, I have to mention that voter turnout was better in Georgia, significantly better. South Carolina reports 18.25 percent turnout in its special; Georgia reports turnout of 57.97 percent. Any analyst would say that topping 50 percent in an off-year election, or in a midterm election, let alone a special, is outstanding.

However–more money coming in, with more national attention, also means more outsiderism. Jon Ossoff may not have been a total carpetbagger, but he was no home-grown favorite son, either. His negatives were slight but telling–living outside the district, for example–and not palliated by his fudging the distance he lived away. More importantly, Ossoff’s candidacy was not the organic product of community action, or activism. He had a successful career in media and the potential to attract big money. Thus Ossoff was the hand-picked choice of Dems who thought They Were the Ones Who Knew the Score, in Georgia and more outside it.

Thus he tacitly reinforced the perception of rigged elections. Republicans kept tying him to ‘Nancy Pelosi’, but the real damage is that Ossoff’s candidacy was a pale reflection of Hillary Clinton’s. No choice. That’s the Democratic message: We’re the one for you, and when we say ‘one’, we mean it.

I have no  strong hope that writers for either Daily Kos or Rachel Maddow will ever perceive the gut unpopularity of this strategy.

We’re already seeing the fall-out from the special elections in ‘progressive’ public discourse. Short form:

Argument over ‘moving to the left’ misses the point in a big way.

Argument over ‘party leadership’ also probably misses the point.

Candidates win in their own districts. Local talent has to run. Popular, well-liked local talent has to run. And genuine liking comes from having worked for, on behalf of, the people you live among. The hysterical careerists who seem to dominate the Democratic Party nationally have yet to pick up on this.

As to making elections a ‘Referendum on Trump’? Losing strategy. I said so before. Going TrumpTrumpTrump as Hillary Clinton did generates the same outcome Clinton got, or created. Furthermore, making congressional elections a ‘referendum on Trump’ ignores the concerns of the congressional district. It is also basically a form of telling people how stupid they are. (Who are you to have your own opinions or preferences?) Telling people how stupid they are/were may give self-anointed insiders a feeling of power for a few minutes, but it is both mean and a loser. That makes it 0 for 2 in my book.

Meanwhile, the hysteria poured into the Georgia Special sucked away resources that could have gone into home foreclosures, or inmate abuse, or immigrants preyed upon by other immigrants, or the backlog of unprocessed rape kits. If the Democrats would work on these and other issues at home, and would do genuine work, they would be seen doing so.

Not that winning is everything. But losing isn’t anything.

Told you so.

 

 

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Georgia 6th special election

Live-blogging results from GA-6.

7:30 p.m. Two polling places scheduled to stay open until 7:30. No results yet from the Georgia State Board of Elections. 0 of 208 precincts reporting.

An intelligent piece from Axios breaks down the math. Three counties in the district; in the election in April, a combined 77 percent of the vote total came from the two counties that went Republican. This result suggests that Republican Karen Handel has the edge against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Guess it’s the April arithmetic on one hand against recent opinion polling on the other.

I have no predictions, but it’s hard not to remember the polls just before last week’s Democratic and Republican primaries in Virginia.

7:38 p.m. First results in. Handel ahead 51 percent to 48 percent in the first seventy thousand votes. Unofficial returns.

Handel

8:09 p.m. Ossoff now ahead 50 to 49 percent, with 115,000 votes in. All three counties partially reporting.

Campaign site

8:48 p.m. Ossoff still ahead almost 50 – 49 percent, for the moment. Thirteen of 208 precincts reported.

8:55 p.m. Karen Handel now up by less than one percent. Nineteen precincts reporting.

9:10 p.m. Handel now up by more than a percent. Quite the little quantum leap, for either candidate. Margin 51 to 48 percent, with 82 precincts in.

9:30 p.m. It’s practically a runaway, by the standards of this special. Handel now up 52 to 47 percent in Georgia 6th. Almost half the precincts in, 99 out of 208.

Almost half of DeKalb County in, theoretically Ossoff’s stronghold. Only a third of Fulton in. Almost four-fifths of Cobb County in. Cannot project any big swing from what votes/precincts remain out.

9:48 p.m. Handel still ahead of Ossoff 52 – 47 percent, with 190,000 votes in. The district ha 447,000 registered voters. It will be interesting to read the total turnout once all votes are counted.

9:51 p.m. Three-fourths of precincts completed, 157 out of 208. Handel leading 51 to 48 percent. DeKalb County now 97 percent completed by precincts.

9:54 p.m. Fulton County precincts now two-thirds counted. Cobb County 92 percent counted. Handel ahead 52 to 47 percent, almost. Are the last three percent’s worth of DeKalb County precincts supposed to make all the difference?

10:01 p.m. One of three counties now in–DeKalb. 219,000 votes in, and Handel still leads Ossoff 52 percent to 47 percent.

I may not be NBC, but I’m calling it for Handel. Period.

 

 

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John Doar of Watergate

Today’s history lesson. The Watergate investigation was headed by Republican John Doar, an alumnus of Princeton and of Berkeley Law. Before serving as chief investigator in Watergate, Doar had served as an Army Air Force pilot in World War II and as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the sixties. His duties as Assistant AG included protecting James Meredith at the University of Mississippi.*

John Doar (left)

President Obama awarded Doar the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 (an award overshadowed by Bob Dylan’s).

Below is a key reminder about Doar’s character and performance. Quoted from the wonderful Jimmy Breslin’s How the Good Guys Finally Won:

The second occurrence, the dangerous one, first began to take form months before. It grew out of the nature of the political business. On one hand there was John Doar, unelected, with working methods that were as strict and severe as they were successful. Security is a rather simple word to Doar: it means you say nothing to anybody. As politicians are essentially elected washerwomen, information often their only visible means of support, this secrecy made some members [of the Judiciary Committee] nervous.

I was reminded of Doar in reading that James Quarles, reportedly on the Mueller team investigating matters under the Trump administration, was a member of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.

Does Robert Mueller remind anyone of Doar?

As a newspaper reader and one of the Washington Post’s last six print subscribers, I have to admit that I myself often enjoy reading about leaks. However, some enlightened skepticism about them is essential–and often a more interesting story. Take for example the phenomenon, throughout the George W. Bush years, of treating as leaks what were actually plants–items planted in media outlets, usually to harm some individual in government no longer in the charmed circle.

A remarkable number of leaks have come from the Mueller team investigating Russia and the 2016 election in the last couple of days. The sources are unnamed at this point, though of course I have my own guesses. One logical claim is unassailable and clear: either Mueller can control the leaks from what purports to be an investigation into serious matters, or he cannot. If he cannot, he is not in control of his team. If he can, he is basically generating the leaks.

Regardless of the benefit of leakers to individual journalists and to individual media outlets, it would be nice to see more informed scrutiny in the news media.

I would also like to see my hunches confirmed as to identity; if someone else won’t provide, I’ll have to do it myself. For analogy and another literary reference, see The Little Red Hen.

*Many people don’t seem to know that the U Mississippi nickname ‘Ole Miss’ is cant for the slave name for the mistress on an antebellum plantation. Funny to hear it used so fondly, since no one would apply ‘Ole Massa’ to anything, at least with affection.

[Update]

Just after posting above, I saw Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement on anonymous allegations. From DOJ:

Statement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Anonymous Allegations

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today issued the following statement:

“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.”

 

 

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Yesterday’s mass shooting

By now everyone knows about the shootings yesterday of Republicans practicing for tonight’s Congressional Baseball Game, a Washington annual charity event.

June 14, 2017

A sixty-six-year-old white guy named James Hodgkinson went to the ball field, checked to make sure that morning’s practice was GOP–the Democrats had practiced earlier–and once players were on the field, opened fire. Majority Whip Steve Scalise is in critical condition. Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, shot in the chest, is in critical condition. Congressional staffer Zack Barth was wounded. Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner were wounded, Griner by gunshot and Bailey in the conflict. Bailey and Griner were also praised by every witness for their heroism. The Capitol Police detail was assigned to Scalise as Whip; if Bailey and Griner had not been there, according to rapid consensus, the shootings would have been a massacre. Hodgkinson was shot by police and died of his injuries in a hospital.

Much has already been discovered, in increments, about the shooter’s anger issues and track record of seemingly petty personal and business conflicts.

Whether he had what could be designated a clinical mental illness remains to be determined, along with any other questions about his health. What is certain is that he had traveled to Northern Virginia from Illinois and had taken up a white-van-type post of sorts near the baseball diamond.

And every indication so far is that in his already unbalanced or fragile mental state he went over the edge in the hype around the 2016 election.

[Visual images readily available. I decided not to insert them here.]

I for one have no doubt whatever that the febrile rhetoric amplified through, or coming from, media outlets contributed to his deterioration.

What’s heartbreaking (for me) is that some of the worst is coming from people who do not hesitate to present themselves as enlightened–progressive, champions of tolerance, People Who Know Things. The puffery I could stand, but some of the worst is coming from people I genuinely thought better of. Chagrined at finding out they weren’t on firm ground (championing the Clintons), they seem to know no concept of boundaries, of everyday justice. There have been indirect and less-indirect wishes for violence ever since the election. Every individual in every occupation is exhorted to hashtag-RESIST. Table any question as to whether people who went along with George Bush’s Iraq invasion would have had the nerve to stand up against an actual dictator. Table the question whether the sneaks now glorifying petty rule-breaking and back-stabbing would have had the guts to join the historical Resistance.

World War II

What the hashtag-Resistance seems to boil down to, right now, is a new elevation of the-rules-are-for-other-people into glorious doctrine. Last night’s WaPo article about the Bob Mueller investigation is perhaps a petty example. Not only are the rules for other people, but we are divinely supported in our view that the rules are for other people.

This is a bogus call to arms.

Full disclosure: Being human, I couldn’t help being amused in a way that Mueller’s team is leaking in so many places. More on that later.

[Update June 15]

To prevent any misunderstanding–the above is not intended to assign blame to Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign. There is too much sneaking at a much less macro level, joined with far too much overheated rhetoric at the macro level.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before Intelligence Committee

Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify soon before the Senate Intelligence Committee– (Watching live-streamed on C-Span, as with former FBI director James Comey’s testimony last week)

As has been adequately reported, or almost adequately, Sessions requested an appearance in open rather than closed setting. Politico notes that

The attorney general is facing increased scrutiny from lawmakers after former FBI Director James Comey testified last week that he knew details about Sessions before his recusal from the Russia probe that would make his involvement in the investigation “problematic.”

The Department of Justice has already released its statement in response to Comey. (View in full below.) Sessions contradicts Comey’s statement on more than one point.

(Attempting to live-blog this appearance. It may curtail some of the cyber theft of bloggers’ writing typical of some Internet sites. As reported this morning, I have found that at least one site, called “Wiky.Team,” is converting my blog site to pdf and selling/giving it away, without my consent. Guess they don’t know that some of us are trying to make a living.)

2:37 p.m. We’re about to start. Room getting quieter. Vote under way on Senate floor. Occasional video shots of the tunnel-like hallway to the room. Senator McCain seats himself. Probably some wondering whether he will be clearer today than he was when questioning Comey.

2:42 p.m. AG Sessions takes his seat. Ranking Democrats shake his hand. Audio forest of cameras going off.

2:43 p.m. Hearing called to order by Senator Richard Burr, chair. Questions re Russia’s interference in 2016 election. “Still scrutinizing CIA budget,” NSA, etc, rest of intelligence community. Mainly “behind closed doors.” Gist: this open hearing an exception. Though not for this year: this is the tenth open hearing of 2017, and the fifth concerning Russia and the election. His Qs for Sessions:

  1. Did you meet with the Russians?
  2. Did Trump campaign interact with the Russians?
  3. What brought you to recuse yourself?
  4. What role if any did you play in Comey’s firing?

Burr signs off reminding everyone of the need for bipartisanship in intelligence, “above politics.”

2:48 p.m. Senator Warner, ranking Democrat. “Mr. Comey’s revealing testimony last week.” Thanks, but “concern” that Sessions’ appearances before House were canceled so that he could appear before Senate committee. Warner hopes Sessions will speak before the House also. Meanwhile, his Qs for Sessions:

  1. Any contact with the Russians? – as in the course of the campaign. Mayflower Hotel? Provide the committee with any documents, including emails.
  2. Any part in the firing of Mr. Comey? Comey was “so unnerved” by President Trump that he felt he had to write everything down.- “a shocking statement,” from a top U.S. law enforcement official.
  3. “How you viewed your recusal” – did it permit Sessions to take part in Comey’s firing?
  4. “Most importantly,” what are you doing to keep the Russians from doing this again? “Russia massively intervened” in the election.

2:55 p.m. AG Sessions takes the oath. Sessions’ intro statement. Deputy AG has appointed a special counsel to investigate Russia in the elections; reminder.

[First item:] “I did not have any private meetings” with Russians at the Mayflower. Did attend/participate with the president in gatherings, e.g. with the Russian ambassador present. “Then I left the hotel.” “I have never met with” or had any conversation with Russian or other foreign officials re any U.S. election. “I was your colleague in this body” for years –“any collusion with the Russian government” to undermine the integrity of democratic process in this country is “an appalling lie.” Re Senator Franken’s question, and subsequent questions — in any meetings with Russians, others present, public; nothing with regard to the U.S. elections.

[Second item:] From the time of his recusal on, did not receive any information about the investigation. Nothing beyond public reporting. “Taken no action” regarding the investigation, since the date of his recusal. Sent memo to his staff telling them “not to brief me” on the investigation, and they have not. According to regulation, official recuses self re any campaign in which s/he served.

[Third item:] Meeting with Mr. Comey, regarding his conversation with the president (day before). Comey expressed concern re communications with WH. “I responded by agreeing that the FBI” and DOJ needed to be careful re communicating with WH, “especially about ongoing investigations.”

“I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false accusations.”

Burr, Sessions. The Russian ambassador “was there”; Sessions does not recall a conversation with him. Reception area; no private meeting. Another encounter at the convention, reported.

Burr, Sessions. March 7, 2017, recusal. Specific reasons? C.F.R. (Code of Federal Regulations) [reads aloud] Fed employee cannot participate in a prosecution or investigation if s/he has a “personal or political relationship” with the subject. (As in DOJ statement posted below.)

Burr, Sessions. No interactions with Special Counsel Robert Mueller since the recusal. Burr, Sessions. “Foreign policy team” for Trump campaign? – not very cohesive.

Warner. Tries to get wholesale assurance that Sessions will appear when demanded. [Sen. Overreacher]

Warner, Sessions. No basis for reports that Trump will remove Mueller. Confidence in Mueller. “I know nothing about the investigation.” Sessions could not take any action that would result in Mueller’s being fired. Warner, Sessions. Any talk of firing re the Russia investigations? – cannot comment on internal DOJ discussions. Warner, Sessions. Sessions did not speak with Comey about Comey’s performance. A memo was prepared by the Deputy AG. “Out of the blue, the president fires the FBI director.”

Warner, Sessions. April 27, 2017, meeting at Mayflower Hotel, when Sessions was in Trump campaign. No recollection whether the Russian ambassador had conversation with Jared Kushner. Cannot remember Sessions talking with the ambassador. Would not have been inappropriate if he had, but does not remember a meeting. Sessions was part of the VIP reception. No communications with the ambassador before or after.

Warner, Sessions. Re Comey’s one-on-one meeting with President Trump, “Mr. Comey was sitting” before the president, and they were talking. Next day, Sessions backed Comey up in his concerns. Comey a former Deputy AG.

Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho). Russia awfully important. Flawed NYTimes article. [C-Span crawl: Dianne Feinstein up next.] In Trump campaign, no mention or suggestion of Russian interference.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California). DOJ and AG Sessions were asked for opinion on firing Comey; provided it. “Let his words speak” for themselves. Cannot comment on internal oral communications with the president. The written statement was made public by the president.

Feinstein, Sessions. When Comey publicly declined to prosecute Hillary Clinton, “thunderous thing” — usurpation of the authority of the AG. Historically, also, a public statement not done; caused concern on both sides of the aisle.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida). February 14, 2017, meeting with president. “His testimony was that you lingered.” Sessions was “one of the last ones to leave.” Had finished a counter-terrorism briefing. “I left. It didn’t seem to me to be a major problem.” Rubio, Sessions. Not just a “shrug.” No prohibition on private meetings with the president. Comey could also call his direct supervisor, the Deputy Attorney General. No knowledge of recording by president.

Rubio, Sessions. GOP plank not to provide weapons to Ukraine. No involvement in conversation about it.

Will Wyden reveal what Comey said in the closed hearing?

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). Open hearing good. “Stonewalling” bad.

Wyden, Sessions. “Basically, I recused myself the first day I got into office”–never got into any files, etc. “Why don’t you tell me?” — “secret innuendo.” [Wyden excoriates closed hearing. Then asks Q about something Comey presumably told them about in closed hearing.]

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Collins, Sessions. Sessions and Rosenstein had discussed Comey’s email statements before either of them was confirmed. – based on investigation of Hillary Clinton. Collins, Sessions. AG had a “responsibility” to engage in the decisions about Comey as FBI director. Collins, Sessions. Appropriate for Comey to talk of his discomfort with his direct supervisor. That would have been Deputy AG Dana Boente. Esp if he knew Sessions was going to recuse himself.

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico). [Why do Dems keep talking about “executive privilege”? AG rightly says that’s the president’s prerogative. He is not invoking it.] [On second thoughts, I guess some Dems are playing to media hunger for another Watergate. Trawling for media moments with ‘executive privilege’ sound bite. The ‘executive privilege’ straw man reminds everyone of Nixon.]

Heinrich. “I’m asking about your personal knowledge.” “You are obstructing” an investigation. “Your silence . . . speaks volumes.” [Heinrich is not a lawyer.]

Sessions. “Breathtaking” usurpation of authority of AG. The FBI director does not decide whether to prosecute.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri).

Blunt, Sessions. No room at Mayflower where Sessions had private meetings. No private meetings. “I didn’t have any formal meeting with him”; “may have had an encounter.” Maybe other ambassadors at that reception as well. No lengthy discussion with Russian ambassador, if any.

Blunt, Sessions. The conversation betw Sessions and Comey was either next morning or morning after that. “Yes, I did respond.” “I think he was incorrect.” Sessions’ chief of staff was with him. Did affirm longstanding guidelines re communications with the WH. They do not prohibit one-on-one conversation betw FBI director and president, but they apply to the entire DOJ re certain investigations.

Senator Angus King (I-Maine). ‘Executive privilege’ again from King. King, Sessions. Protecting confidential communications for the WH and AG. King rehashes Q of Sessions’ revealing a communication already communicated by the president. No information re the Russian investigation. King, Sessions. “My evaluation” of Comey–not a sole written evaluation. Other reasons besides Hillary Clinton.

Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma). Precedent for an AG to keep some things confidential.

Lankford, Sessions. This morning Rod Rosenstein “was peppered with questions about Russia” in private setting; “he was very clear” that he’s had no conversations with Sessions about Russia. Also latest story re Mueller’s getting fired: Rosenstein said he was the only one with authority to do that, and he is not contemplating firing him. [Finally – breath of clarity.]

Lankford, Sessions. “Recusal meant recusal.” Reception situation clarified as well. [Reads statement aloud.]

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). No discussion of lifting sanctions against Russia.

Manchin, Sessions. Closed session? – maybe. “Very problematic” in an ongoing investigation. No other meetings with Russian officials. None discussed manipulating U.S. campaigns. No other meetings betw Russian officials and Trump campaign than have been reported. Paul Manafort? Steve Bannon? Reince Priebus? Steve Miller? Lewandowski? -Do not recall or do not know of any meeting of Russians with any. Maybe Page, already reported.

Manchin, Sessions. Ask re any “impact” of Russian interference on this election.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas). Did Trump or any associates collude with Russia to affect the election? [Answers his own Q: no evidence. Nothing.]

Cotton, Sessions. No understanding of Comey’s allusion to Sessions. No understanding why Comey accused Sessions of not responding. Cannot speculate on why Comey distrusted Trump from the first as stated.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California). “To the best of your recollection.” Any written docs? “I didn’t keep notes on most of these things.” Will supply Committee “as appropriate.” Harris, Sessions. Any undisclosed conversations with Russians during the campaign? Any communications betw Trump officials and Russia during campaign? None to recall. [Now Harris tries to pin Sessions down on a written DOJ policy re not telling what the AG told the president. “Yes, I consulted.” – “Did you ask [underlings] to show you specific policy on this?” – (Sounds like a no.)] [Harris was much better last time.]

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). Formal recusal was on March 2, 2017. Russian investigation began later. Cornyn, Sessions. DOJ letter/memo re Comey did not mention Russia.

[Black-letter law? I thought that the necessity for frank confidential communications for the White House was a given.] [This would not apply if the WH were committing a crime. But neither Dems nor Repubs say that Trump and the campaign colluded with Russia.]

Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island). Seemingly a good opinion of Comey at some months, then agreeing with the Rosenstein memo later. Reed, Sessions. Comey should not have commented publicly on the Clinton email investigation to begin with; went against classical precedent. DOJ recommendation was put in writing (had nothing to do with Russia).

Sure enough, Senator McCain was asking about Ukraine before

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). Ukraine. McCain, Sessions. Sessions raised concerns about Ukraine as a senator. Even argued with Russian ambassador about the Ukraine. Not about Assad in Syria or the U.S. election. No contacts with Russian officials or lobbyists during the 2016 campaign. Cyber threats not good for anyone. Including the world. [Reasonable view.]

Warner again. “Russian intervention” versus “witch hunt” and “fake news.”

“A series of comments made by Mr. Comey last week”–If there are these longstanding written procedures to protect communications with pres, we need to see them. – ties same back to Russia. [Why wd Dems think they will win politically by wrapping themselves in the mantle of Jim Comey? Have they all forgotten the GWBush White House?]

Burr again. Qs about Mayflower meetings, recusal answered. Provide any documents possible, anything that substantiates your testimony today, individuals present.

5:08 p. m. “This hearing’s now adjourned.”

Department of Justice Issues Statement on Testimony of Former FBI Director James Comey

In response to testimony given today by former FBI Director James Comey, Department of Justice Spokesman Ian Prior issued the following statement:

  • Shortly after being sworn in, Attorney General Sessions began consulting with career Department of Justice ethics officials to determine whether he should recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.

Those discussions were centered upon 28 CFR 45.2, which provides that a Department of Justice attorney should not participate in investigations that may involve entities or individuals with whom the attorney has a political or personal relationship. That regulation goes on to define “political relationship” as:

“[A] close identification with an elected official, a candidate (whether or not successful) for elective, public office, a political party, or a campaign organization, arising from service as a principal adviser thereto or a principal official thereof ***”

Given Attorney General Sessions’ participation in President Trump’s campaign, it was for that reason, and that reason alone, the Attorney General made the decision on March 2, 2017 to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.

  • In his testimony, Mr. Comey stated that he was “not *** aware of” “any kind of memorandum issued from the Attorney General or the Department of Justice to the FBI outlining the parameters of [the Attorney General’s] recusal.” However, on March 2, 2017, the Attorney General’s Chief of Staff sent the attached email specifically informing Mr. Comey and other relevant Department officials of the recusal and its parameters, and advising that each of them instruct their staff “not to brief the Attorney General *** about, or otherwise involve the Attorney General *** in, any such matters described.”
  • During his testimony, Mr. Comey confirmed that he did not inform the Attorney General of his concerns about the substance of any one-on-one conversation he had with the President. Mr. Comey said, following a morning threat briefing, that he wanted to ensure he and his FBI staff were following proper communications protocol with the White House. The Attorney General was not silent; he responded to this comment by saying that the FBI and Department of Justice needed to be careful about following appropriate policies regarding contacts with the White House.
  • Despite previous inaccurate media reports, Mr. Comey did not say that he ever asked anyone at the Department of Justice for more resources related to this investigation.
  • In conclusion, it is important to note that after his initial meeting with career ethics officials regarding recusal (and including the period prior to his formal recusal on March 2, 2017), the Attorney General has not been briefed on or participated in any investigation within the scope of his recusal.
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Caveat emptor – “Wiky.Team” (Caymans)

If you are reading this, you know that my web site is located at www.margieburns.com. You know that I am the author. I am the creator of this blog site and am the only copyright owner.

It has now come to my attention, as they say, that a purveyor called “Wiky.Team” is converting my site to pdf and is giving away and/or selling it. Link here.

Wiky.Team does not have my consent. Neither Wiky.Team nor anyone else besides me can lawfully sell, give, or otherwise convey the contents of my blog site, without my knowledge and consent.

I do not know the full extent of the damage. Clicking the link at different moments yields different results. I’ve printed off a couple and downloaded a couple. The most recent one gave

Rating: 4/5 from 8218 votes.

The upload date for this one was June 9, 2016. The most recent posts at that time were several articles I had written on the 2016 Clinton campaign.

Then

Reloading the Wiky.Team page, I get

Rating:  3/5 from 9424 votes.

That was based apparently on an upload date of February 28, 2016. My most recent post was an article I titled “The elephant and the denatured donkey in the room,” also about the 2016 election. (The New Hampshire primary was imminent when I wrote the article, past on the date of the upload.)

Reloading the Wiky.Team page again, I get an upload date of April 15, 2016, and a “rating” of 3.5/5 from 1553 votes. Diminished all around, apparently. Let’s see–what was the new one that date?

Oh, yes. The article titled “Hillary Clinton in campaign 2008: Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination as talking point.”

I wonder, of course, who is uploading my blog site in pdf.

I wonder even more whether the uploaders are getting my work only as a free introductory offer, part of the one-month initial trial period for free. Or are they paying Wiky.Team for my work?

Either way, Wiky.Team has not gotten in touch with me, via direct deposit or otherwise.

More later.

 

 

 

 

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Washington figures– Comey, McCain, New York Times

Today’s Comey testimony —

Fired FBI director James B. Comey’s much-anticipated appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee today did contain three surprises. Keeping it brief, I’d rather highlight the three than recap everything that will be covered by every media outlet.

I watched the presentation live-stream on C-Span, the event unedited and unfiltered by commentary.

It was pretty much a given that Comey would fire back at the man who fired him and would accuse President Trump of lying, that questions from most of the Democrats on the Committee would focus on Trump, and that Republicans’ questions would defend him. It was also a given that some things would not be aired “in an open setting,” to use Comey’s phrase; the Committee was scheduled to hold a closed hearing at 1:00 p.m. Any discussion of the salacious Steele dossier would be reserved for the closed session. It was also a given that Comey would exonerate himself to the maximum extent possible–admit what you can’t deny, deny what you can’t admit. He’s done it before. He also made clear again, as in his prepared remarks (below), that Trump was not the subject of an investigation.

Thus we can skip over Senator Mark Warner’s introductory remarks and Comey’s prefatory comments about his firing, the FBI, and the Russian investigation, already much covered in cable commentary and in print. Pull quote: “Those were lies, plain and simple.”

Senator Burr’s opening questions established Comey’s position that Russia tried to intervene in the election–“no doubt”–but that the interference did not extend to altering votes. Comey also negatived a question whether anyone asked him to stop the Russian investigation. However, he left open the suggestion that criminal aspects not connected with the 2016 election may turn up. Plenty of room for investigation, by both special counsel and Congress. He also commented matter-of-factly and accurately that “There’s all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time” — “hundreds” “at least” — but that the 2016 election was the first he knew of affecting the DNC. Comey also said, in response to questions, that the FBI did not have direct access to the DNC hardware but got it via a third party, by spring 2016.

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Surprise 1. Comey said again that he had decided to go public with his July 2016 statement about the Clinton email investigation to protect the credibility of the FBI and of the investigation. Specifically, he was concerned by former president Bill Clinton’s meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Saying that there was one significant item he could not talk about publicly, he said that there was one he could: Attorney General Lynch directed him to call it a “matter,” not an “investigation.” Comey reiterated the statement in response to subsequent questions. (The law prof has since been identified in the press.)

Surprise 2. During questions from Senator Susan Collins, Comey stated that he “asked a friend of mine to share the contents” of his writing with a reporter. The friend was a law professor, “a good friend of mine at Columbia Law School. ” His self-created source–a person close to Comey, as they say–passed the notes along to the New York Times. According to Comey, this transmission took place after the president tweeted about “tapes.” Comey also said he hopes there were tapes and would consent to their release.

Columbia Law

(Hypothetically–suppose Trump had accused Comey of leaking, even through a law-prof friend, to the NYTimes. What would the media reaction have been?)

Surprise 3. Senator John McCain seemed so confused that he sounded like a different person. Twice McCain said “Comey” when referring to President Trump. In a short series of disjointed questions, he accused Comey of having a “double standard” as to the Clinton email investigation and the Russian investigation. To this partisan talking point, McCain seemed to add a suggestion linking the Clinton campaign to Russia. The logical guess is that McCain meant the Ukraine, and Ukraine’s efforts to interfere on behalf of Clinton–but referred to Ukraine as “Russia.” (McCain still got off a reasonably good question. When Trump referred to “that thing” to Comey, why didn’t Comey ask him what “that thing” was? – Comey: it didn’t seem important. McCain: “I think I would have had some curiosity, if it had been about me.”)

The rest of the back-and-forth and questioning was punctuated by a few Comey answers quickly given, then quickly amended. Three examples:

When Angus King (I-Maine) asked Comey whether he had ever called the president, he immediately said no. But–“once I was asked to call the White House switchboard”–so he did.

When Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) asked Comey whether the president had ever asked him about Russian interference in the election, Comey instantly responded no. Then  he said he thought “there was an initial briefing” about Russia and the election, with “conversation” and “questions.” (Manchin also asked Comey, “Do you believe you would have been fired if Hillary Clinton had become president?” Comey: “I don’t know.” “I might have been.”)

When Manchin then asked Comey whether he had talked with Sessions about why Sessions wasn’t in the room (with Trump and Comey), he said no. But–“I did talk to him and said, you have to be [etc.],” but Comey did not tell Sessions about the Flynn conversation.

Further parsing if any will have to wait for a later date. For now, the wrap-up is that new Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) has a laudable ability to cover a lot of ground quickly, concisely, and clearly. Her questions included the following:

Any meetings of Trump officials and Russian officials during campaign, not acknowledged? Any encrypted communications? Anything destroyed? Any efforts to conceal? – Comey: all these Qs not to be dealt with in open session.

Harris: The parameters of Sessions’ recusal? – Any written notice or memo about it? – Comey: don’t know.

Harris: Should Mueller have full authority to pursue his investigation, full independence? –  Comey: yes.

Statement for the Record

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

James B. Comey

June 8, 2017

Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee.

Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.

January 6 Briefing

I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.

The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.

The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.

It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.

Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.

In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) — once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months — three in person and six on the phone.

January 27 Dinner

The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation who else would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.

It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.

The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.

My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.

I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.

A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because “problems” come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.

Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term — honest loyalty — had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.

During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.

As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.

February 14 Oval Office Meeting

On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National CounterTerrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.

The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.

 

When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.

The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information — a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.

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.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”

The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.

I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. 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. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.

The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President’s request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General’s role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members — or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them — aware of the President’s request.

Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President’s concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened — him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind — was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI’s potential investigation of General Flynn.

March 30 Phone Call

On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.

Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week — at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)

The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.

In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up “the McCabe thing” because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe’s wife) campaign money. Although I didn’t understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.

He finished by stressing “the cloud” that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.

Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia-related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.

April 11 Phone Call

On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.

He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.

That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.

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