Trump Allegedly Wants FBI To Look Into Locking Up Journalists Who Publish Leaks

from the because-of-course-that-would-be-his-solution dept

It's been another busy week for our president. Following on the heels of his revelation that he fired FBI Director James Comey over the ongoing Russian ties investigation (and following on the heels of Trump's tweeted threat about secret recordings of conversations with Comey), the FBI's acting director said the investigation is still ongoing, a special counsel was picked to oversee the investigation, and people close to Comey hinted the FBI might have some recordings of its own that undercut the president's narrative.

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

It's a record, of sorts, if not an actual recording. And it's done the way the FBI prefers to memorialize things (including testimony and "custodial interviews") -- on paper, rather than with other, less-biased recording devices. And, again, this is hearsay on top of hearsay: unnamed people claiming they read a piece of paper purporting to be a record of a conversation between Comey and the president. Grains of salt and all that, and despite what many are claiming all over the internet, really not a strong indicator of actual instruction, which could be an impeachable offense.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.

Buried way, way down in the New York Times story is some more hearsay. This time it's Trump allegedly suggesting something should be done about that pesky press he's always complaining about. But, like the scenario above, it still sounds very much like something President Trump would say in a personal meeting he thought wouldn't be turned into an office memo.

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

James Comey was no fan of the press, but he did at least defend journalists (sort of) at a recent hearing. He doesn't like seeing leaks published, but pointed out to legislators more interested in shooting the messenger that the person leaking the documents is the criminal, not the press, at least in the eyes of the DOJ.

But the DOJ is no longer the DOJ, so to speak. It's now being run by someone who wants to turn back the clock to the mid-1980s and start the drug war all over again. It's apparently engaged in twisting the law into a Wikileaks-prosecuting pretzel, despite Comey's assurances about messengers not being shot. And the administration has made it clear it's in the business of hunting down leakers, perhaps with the goal of unseating President Obama at the top of the "most whistleblowers prosecuted" list.

At this point, it's all just secondhand (Oval) office chatter. But considering the animosity Trump has shown towards the press and free speech in general, it's worth noting. And it always seems like every Trump denial or assertion has been followed by a leaked document to the contrary, so I'd be surprised if Comey's memo isn't made public within the next few days -- either by being leaked to journalists or presented at the hearings Comey has been asked to attend. This administration's contempt and hatred for the press has been undisguised. Donald Trump may be unable to change the Constitution, but that doesn't mean he and his handpicked agency heads won't spend the next few years making journalists' lives miserable.


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 9:40am

    Temporal Anomoly

    But the DOJ is no longer the DOJ, so to speak. It's now being run by someone who wants to turn back the clock to the mid-1980s and start the drug war all over again.

    Well, if they start all over again, they might be able to win this time. Of course, they might need to redefine 'win'. In the mean time, the damage being done by this 'undeclared war' would become immensely greater.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 10:07am

    This should be interesting to prosecute:

    Prosecution: The defendant leaked secret information about the Trump administration.

    Defense: The Trump administration has stated repeatedly that the story isn't true. Therefore it's not a leak.

    Prosecution: Trump has just contradicted his staff and told Fox News that the leaked story is true.

    Defense: Goddammi...

    Judge: And now he's tweeted that it's false, and a witch hunt.

    Defense: And the Russian government is backing him up.

    Defendant: Can I go home until this is resolved?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 18 May 2017 @ 10:13am

    #6 of the 14 characteristics of fascism.
    "Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. "
    https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/fasci14chars.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 10:17am

    So essentially, reporters should check with the government before publishing anything in order to prevent sensitive or incorrect information from getting out.

    Perhaps Trump should take his own advice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 10:17am

    That is what you get for having a Department of Justice

    Justice is a malleable thing and now we get to see what Trump Justice™ is like as dispensed by the government of the United States.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OA (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 11:17am

      Re: That is what you get for having a Department of Justice

      Justice is malleable in the same way shoes are malleable. Work has to be done to make it fit properly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 10:38am

    Even if his notes say what is being claimed, could it be a blackmail attempt if Trump ever fired Comey? Lo and behold, Comey is fired because he’s a screwup that everyone has been saying and boom!, there’s the mine he laid. Comey’s notes can say anything. This has all the marks of a disgruntled employee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 10:57am

      Re:

      This has all the marks of Donald Trump. It's 100% consistent with everything he's said in public. Repeatedly. At rallies. In interviews. In his tweets. Etc.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 18 May 2017 @ 12:11pm

      Re:

      Comey is fired because he’s a screwup that everyone has been saying

      Your talking points are a week old. Did you miss the Lester Holt interview? Comey was fired because of the Russia investigation; Trump said as much, on national television.

      Comey’s notes can say anything. This has all the marks of a disgruntled employee.

      Yeah! What has Trump ever said that indicates he thinks the press should suffer legal punishments for publishing stories he doesn't like?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Kay (profile), 22 May 2017 @ 1:17pm

      Re:

      Comey has controlled the media conversation on this very closely, it's sort of fascinating. What a calculating man he must be! I would love to have him coaching me when I have political battles at work.

      He's been having hints leaked to the press that he might have tapes of his own, of some conversations. If that turns out to be the case... whoa.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 10:44am

    During their recent visit, the turks gave trump a copy of their new book,
    "Dictatoring for Idiots"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 18 May 2017 @ 11:52am

    Trump is NOT trying to obstruct justice!

    He's just trying to put a stop to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 6:46am

      Re: Trump is NOT trying to obstruct justice!

      Comey isn't even an investigator, all he does is read briefs on current on-going investigations and has direct power over the delegation of resources towards investigations.

      Firing him changes nothing except that perhaps the investigation into Hillary and the DNC might be reopened...Which it should be since it's pretty self-evident that Seth Rich was assassinated for his involvement in the DNC leaks to Wikileaks of which we now have tangible evidence thanks to the private investigator hired by his parents.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Phalen, 19 May 2017 @ 10:20am

        Re: Re: Trump is NOT trying to obstruct justice!

        Firing him changes nothing except that perhaps the investigation into Hillary and the DNC might be reopened...Which it should be since it's pretty self-evident that Seth Rich was assassinated for his involvement in the DNC leaks to Wikileaks of which we now have tangible evidence thanks to the private investigator hired by his parents.

        Oh come on, man. That story was debunked in a few hours by the private investigator himself and the family. From the PI:

        "But Tuesday afternoon, Wheeler told CNN he had no evidence to suggest Rich had contacted Wikileaks before his death.

        Wheeler instead said he only learned about the possible existence of such evidence through the reporter he spoke to for the FoxNews.com story. He explained that the comments he made to WTTG-TV were intended to simply preview Fox News' Tuesday story."

        And from the family:

        But a spokesman for Rich’s family said there’s a gaping hole in the Fox 5 D.C.’s report: That private investigator, Rod Wheeler, doesn’t have access to Rich’s laptop.

        “We know where Seth’s personal computer is. We know where his DNC computer is. Neither [Rod Wheeler] nor anybody else has it,” Brad Bauman, who is representing the Rich family, told The Daily Beast.

        Please tell me you don't actually exercise your right to vote. If you're dumb enough to still believe batshit Clinton conspiracies, you need professional help.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 2:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Trump is NOT trying to obstruct justice!

          Well I see you're already brainwashed by all of the disinformation floating around.

          So here are a videos of him speaking about it:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grkK33chJkw

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuRJDKEVxHY

          Uh yeah, I don't see him or his family saying any of the things you've quoted nor is there any evidence that he ever spoke to CNN about it.

          "Please tell me you don't actually exercise your right to vote. If you're dumb enough to still believe batshit Clinton conspiracies, you need professional help."

          Right back at you.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 1:57pm

    “I hope you can let this go,” The party of Hate is too lazy to take care of the peoples business, but has a sufficient amount of time and money to burn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 4:40pm

    In practice, the US Constitution means whatever the USSC says it does.

    So, with "Fascism Forever" Gorsuch on the court, along with Alito/Thomas/Roberts/Kennedy: yes, they can change the Constitution.

    Y'all are screwed. The only question now is if the US will pull the rest of the world down with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2017 @ 6:37pm

    " but that doesn't mean he and his handpicked agency heads won't spend the next few years making journalists' lives miserable."

    They're going to have a hard time doing that from federal prison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    richard sabor, 18 May 2017 @ 9:11pm

    someones lying Comey on Youtube saying NEVER pressured!

    You do understand Comey is on youtube THIS MONTH saying nobody pressured him....someones lying and maybe Comey is committing perjury again.

    But Comey says it didn't happen on YOUTUBE why cant the fake news media cover this?

    I just listen to what Comey says to find out whats really TRUE!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OgDai05bkU

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 19 May 2017 @ 2:07am

      Like taking a crazy-bat to the head

      Good ghandi that comment section...

      I'm not sure if I should be laughing or horrified when the top rated comment was talking about marching soldiers into congress and forcing them to 'do what it right'.

      The comment in question: 'Trump needs to do what Octavian Augustus did after they killed Caesar, march his soldiers into the senate and force the traitor senators to do what is right!' -OctoMan PC's

      And the rest... yeah. Just... yeah.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 19 May 2017 @ 12:32am

    I see, lock up the journos and not the people within his own cabinet that are providing the leaks to the journos in the first place. Brilliant plan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 4:58am

    Of course, this would note apply to newspapers outside of the United States who did this. Because all of Swoden's leaks were given to newspapers in Hong Kong and Britain, those publications are only subject to the laws of those countries.

    So, under these guidelines, The Guardian would have been not subject to US laws, since the paper is a British company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 6:20am

    Hoping he would let it go is not the same as 'ordering' him to let it go.

    Democrats are losing their shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 6:28am

    "This administration's contempt and hatred for the press has been undisguised."

    Funny, Obama had the same contempt for all conservative news organizations but as soon as these 'over-privileged' so-called news organizations get called out for the fake news that they are, all of a sudden they're the victims?

    You reap what you sow.

    It seems to me the only ones complaining are Establishment media companies...Meanwhile, the floors have been opened up to smaller news organizations and independent journalists.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmSSgtBe-CE

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 8:06am

    Any one remember James Rosen or AP reporters?

    Trump is a threat?
    Selective memory ...

    Remember the outrage when James Rosen (reporter) was name a possible conspirator in a leak investigation? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-scheer/james-rosen-fox-news-emails_b_3350853.html
    Or when phone records of AP reporters were under subpoena?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Department_of_Justice_investigations_of_reporters

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 10:23am

    ALLEGEDLY? Really, your whole basis for this piece begins by admitting it's a made up smear?

    A new low for even Techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 19 May 2017 @ 1:37pm

      Re: ALLEGEDLY? Really, your whole basis for this piece begins by admitting it's a made up smear?

      That's not what "allegedly" means.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2017 @ 2:51pm

        Re: Re: ALLEGEDLY? Really, your whole basis for this piece begins by admitting it's a made up smear?

        It's still without proof and until there's proof, it's 'a made up smear.'

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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