Chuck Grassley Rips the White House

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He wrote a letter to the White House requesting that the Office of Legal Counsel withdraw its opinion that Democrats’ requests for information be ignored.

Unfortunately, the May 1, 2017 Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion authored by Acting Assistant Attorney General Curtis E. Gannon on this topic completely misses the mark. It erroneously rejects any notion that individual members of Congress who may not chair a relevant committee need to obtain information from the Executive Branch in order to carry out their Constitutional duties. It falsely asserts that only requests from committees or their chairs are “constitutionally authorized,” and relegates requests from non-Chairmen to the position of “non-oversight” inquiries— whatever that means.

This is nonsense.

For OLC to so fundamentally misunderstand and misstate such a simple fact exposes its shocking lack of professionalism and objectivity. Indeed, OLC appears to have utterly failed to live up to its own standards. You are being ill-served and illadvised.

Six pages, with footnotes.

It’s good to see a senator doing his job. And the fact that he’s Republican shines a little ray of hope.

Here’s an article about it in Politico, if you want to go there.

Primary Rancor-Free Open Thread

Instead of rehashing the 2016 Democratic Party primary for the millionth goddamned time or arguing counterfactuals based on an election outcome in another country, how about looking at this lovely giant swallowtail butterfly that briefly graced a bamboo tree in my yard?

Open thread, except for the aforementioned topics, which can be engaged downstairs. C’mon, man. There’s plenty of other stuff to talk about. Weekend plans? Cooking? Pets? Irritating bosses? Read any good books lately? Anything except you-know-what. Don’t make me come down there!

Maybe this explains it…

Gorgeous moon this morning peeking out between the clouds:

I was only outside for a few minutes to take a couple of photos and am now inside scratching multiple mosquito bites. Damn! All the rain we’ve been having brought on a bumper crop of the blood suckers.

From the Twitters, a high-five gone terribly awry:

Still, great night for Corbyn, despite the inadvertent boobage. Looks like high turnout from younger voters made the difference. We need us some of that on this side of the pond.

The Guardian live blog reports that May won’t resign. Hmm.

On the other bank of De Nile, Uday. I don’t recommend clicking the video; it’s too early to subject yourself to that smarmy little shitweasel. I’m posting the tweet to highlight the breathtaking arrogance of, “Now that this is all passed…”

Oh, it’s just getting started, Uday.

Also, I read that if Twitler doesn’t tweet by 6:13 AM Eastern time today, it will be the longest he’s gone without tweeting since he launched his campaign. My guess is he breaks the record, is hog-tied by attorneys.

Anyhoo, open thread for the lunatics.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Former Director Comey Testimony II

Here’s a fresh thread for former Director Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Update at 12:10 PM EDT

Because we can chew gum and walk at the same time, do not forget to call your senators about the attempt to jam the AHCA through the Senate!!!!!! You know what to do!

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Live Feed: Former FBI Director Comey Testimony

Here’s the live feed for former FBI Director Comey’s testimony.

Update at 10:34 AM EDT

I switched the live stream below to PBS’s.


An Informed Expert’s Initial Views on James Comey’s Testimony Tomorrow

Benjamin Wittes is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and the editor in chief of Lawfare. He is also a friend of James Comey. Earlier this evening he shared his initial thoughts after reading the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s release of former FBI Director Comey’s prepared opening statement tomorrow. While I highly recommend the whole thing, here are the final three paragraphs that tie Wittes’ thoughts together.

But I will make three general observations based on this document alone.

First, Comey is describing here conduct that a society committed to the rule of law simply cannot accept in a president. We have spent a lot of time on this site over seven years now debating the marginal exertions of presidential power and their capacity for abuse. Should the president have the authority to detain people at Guantanamo? Incinerate suspected terrorists with flying robots? Use robust intelligence authorities directed at overseas non-citizens? These questions are all important, but this document is about a far more important question to the preservation of liberty in a society based on legal norms and rules: the abuse of the core functions of the presidency. It’s about whether we can trust the President—not the President in the abstract, but the particular embodiment of the presidency in the person of Donald J. Trump—to supervise the law enforcement apparatus of the United States in fashion consistent with his oath of office. I challenge anyone to read this document and come away with a confidently affirmative answer to that question.

Second, we are about to see a full-court press against Comey. I don’t know what it will look like. But the attack instinct always kicks in when a presidency is under siege. And Trump has the attack instinct in spades even when he’s not under siege. It is important to remember what the stakes are here. They are not about whether Comey was treated fairly. They are not about whether you like him. They are not about whether he handled the Clinton email investigation in the highest traditions of the FBI or the Justice Department. They are not about leaks. The stakes here are about whether what Comey is reporting in this document are true facts and, if so, what we need as a political society to do about the reality that we have a president who behaves this way and seeks to use the FBI in this fashion. It is critical, in other words, that people not change the subject or get distracted when others try to do so.

Finally, it is also critical—though probably fruitless to say—that we eschew partisanship in the conversation. Tomorrow, this document will be the discussion text when Comey faces a committee that, warts and all, has handled the Russia matter to date in a respectable and honorably bipartisan fashion. It is not too much to ask that members put aside party and respond as patriots to the fact that the former FBI director will swear an oath that these facts are true—and was fired after these interactions allegedly took place by a man who then told Lester Holt that “when I decided to just do it [fire Comey], I said to myself … this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” and boasted to the Russians the day after dismissing Comey that “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”


James Comey’s Prepared Statement to Congress

Just released.

Getting a lot of play on Twitter:

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 tenyear 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.

I’m going to get lunch now. Will be back in a bit.