Email # 156: “It defies logic”?

President Trump has long criticized FBI Director James Comey for not pursuing Secretary Clinton more aggressively for her handling of classified emails. He tweeted last July:

“FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow!”

He tweeted the same opinion earlier this month:

‘‘FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deed!’’

You responded similarly to Comey’s announcement that Clinton would not be prosecuted:

“It defies logic and the law that she faces no consequences for jeopardizing national security.”

But when Comey announced publicly that he was reopening the Clinton case just days before the election, Trump approved:

“I was not his fan. But I’ll tell you what he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back. He’s got to hang tough because there’s a lot of — a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. What he did was the right thing.”

You approved too:

“The FBI’s decision to reopen its investigation into Secretary Clinton reinforces what the House Judiciary Committee has been saying for months: the more we learn about Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the clearer it becomes that she and her associates committed wrongdoing and jeopardized national security.”

And yet now we are to understand that the President Trump fired Director Comey not despite but specifically because of his reopening of the Clinton case? Deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein explained in the memo that accompanied the President’s letter dismissing Comey:

“The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

Do you agree with the deputy attorney general? If so, why have you never expressed any criticism of Comey for the timing of his second investigation and its well-documented influence on the outcome of the election? Have you, like the President, completely reversed your opinion in the last week?

Other members of Congress are very concerned. Senator Burr said on Tuesday:

“I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”

Senator Corker said:

“his removal at this particular time will raise questions.”

Senator Lankford said:

“the American people need clarity and deserve an explanation for his immediate firing.”

Senator McCain said:

“I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”

Rep. Amash said:

“My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.”

Amash was referring to President Trump’s letter to Comey:

“While I greatly appreciate your informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

The President’s statement is “bizarre” because multiple members of his campaign are under investigation for possible collusion with Russia in its well-documented interference in the election. These are concerns voiced by your fellow Republicans in Congress, and so none can be dismissed as politically biased. The President’s decision, however, appears highly biased.

As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, it is your job to oversee the executive branch, and yet you said nothing about the influence Comey’s reopening of the Clinton case had on the election. Your response to Comey’s firing also says nothing:

“The FBI is the premier law enforcement agency in the world and it is critical to have a director who holds the trust of the American people. It is clearly the President’s prerogative to remove the FBI Director, as was recommended by the top two officials at the Department of Justice. I would like to thank Director Comey for his many years of faithful service, and I look forward to working closely with the White House to identify a suitable successor as quickly as possible.”

Your statements of the obvious would be comically vapid if they did not also distract from the fact that Comey was unexpectedly fired in the midst of his investigation into the Trump’s campaign’s ties to Russia–and just a week after requesting funds to expand that investigation.

The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, but yours are suffering far worse. What will it take for you to set politics aside and do your job?

Your behavior defies logic.

Bob Goodlatte replies about Russia election interference

Dear Mr. Gavaler:

Thank you for contacting me regarding Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I am actively seeking answers from the intelligence community and ensuring the Committee maintains rigorous oversight of Executive Branch agencies within the Committee’s jurisdiction.

On March 20, 2017, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James B. Comey publicly announced that the FBI is conducting an investigation into possible connections between Russian officials and President Trump’s presidential campaign. While this is an ongoing investigation, and information is therefore kept confidentially within the FBI, I am monitoring all developments in the investigation.

In this effort, I coauthored a letter on March 24, 2017, with my colleagues Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas which pressed key intelligence agencies about leaks of classified information and the impact they have on the American people’s trust in vital national security programs. In this letter to the leaders of the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency, we expressed deep concern about leaks of classified information from unnamed sources to the media and the continuous repercussions of prior unauthorized and damaging disclosures about national security programs. These leaks are especially damaging as the House Judiciary Committee seeks to reauthorize and reform foreign surveillance programs in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) later this year. This program, which targets the communications of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States in order to protect national security, reportedly encompasses more than a quarter of all NSA surveillance and has been used on multiple occasions to detect and prevent horrific terrorist plots against our country.

All leaks of classified information have the potential to erode the American people’s trust in their government’s ability to protect both the security of our country and privacy of U.S. persons.  In our letter, we call on the intelligence community to openly dispel any false accusations of widespread illegal surveillance.  Moreover, it is vital for the intelligence community to publicly describe the value of FISA Section 702 in thwarting terrorist plots. Finally, we have requested a briefing on efforts made by the intelligence agencies to weed out any leakers of classified information and bring them to justice.

Furthermore, I share your concerns of the prospect that the Russian government or affiliated foreign agents attempted to interfere with our elections and are seeking to meddle with upcoming general election campaigns in France and Germany this year.

I want to emphasize that the intelligence community has found no evidence that there was any interference in the voting or balloting process in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. However, Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, testified that Russia “definitely did try to influence the campaign.”

Right now, the FBI and the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence are pursuing separate investigations to determine what level of interference the Russians did play in attempting to influence the 2016 election, and what relationship existed between the Russian government and the Trump presidential campaign. Rest assured I will monitor the respective investigations and work to ensure the investigations into Russia’s action will be conducted professionally and will follow the facts wherever they may lead.

I appreciate you taking the time contact me. It is important to keep an open line of communication so I can best serve the interests of Virginia’s 6th District. I hope you will continue to be in touch as Congress debates issues of importance to the United States.


Bob Goodlatte
Member of Congress

Email #9, Subject: New Cold War

I read in the Washington Post that the CIA has now officially concluded that Russia “intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.” This is a massive fact. A foreign power, the former “Evil Empire” that battled the U.S. in a half century of Cold War conflicts, hacked our country and then used its hacked information to elect the candidate who made repeated pro-Putin statements against the candidate who made repeated anti-Putin statements. If this had happened in the 50s or 60s or 70s or 80s, it would have been enough to start World War III. It certainly would have gotten GOP leaders talking openly about direct retaliation, military and otherwise. The GOP will now run every branch of our government, so it’s up to you to act. How are you responding to this extraordinary act of Russian aggression? How are you going to fight this New Cold War?

Chris Gavaler