Presidential Chats With An FBI Director About Investigations

The Deputy White House Press Secretary is asserting on television that that “legal scholars” are saying that it was not inappropriate for the President and the FBI Director to discuss whether the President was under criminal investigation. These “legal scholars” are not named.  (Indeed, they sound like the “top men” that are researching the Ark of the Covenant).

The Deputy White House Press Secretary’s statement is incorrect.  It was not illegal for the FBI Director and the President to have these conversations standing alone.  But it was inappropriate.

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3 Responses

  1. Brett Bellmore says:

    This whole possibly fake scandal is lousy with anonymous sources. At this point I’ve decided that I’m going to just flat out ignore any report that isn’t based on a named source quoted with context. I don’t trust anonymous sources AT ALL anymore. For all I know “unnamed source” is a journalistic code word for “imaginary conversation”.

    Ok, serious question: If the President calls up the head of the FBI, and says, “Comey, I’m hearing all these rumors based on unnamed sources that I’m under investigation. Am I?”. What’s wrong with that? Because I don’t see what the problem is.

  2. Joe says:

    There has already be stuff on the record, including stuff that led Trump to fire a top official, that show “the whole thing” isn’t “fake.”

    But, if someone, surely totally neutrally, when Trump is involved, wants to “at all” not trust anonymous sources (I’m fine with suspicions but everyone trustworthy isn’t going to be on the record, especially for low level stuff that isn’t worth threatening their jobs and careers; plus the timing of this strict rule is dubious) it’s up to that person.

    There is a discussion of the serious question here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/05/12/no-presidents-should-not-ask-fbi-directors-if-theyre-under-investigation/?utm_term=.b42f2e012d15

    Suffice to say, it partially involves the reality that merely asking a question isn’t all that is necessarily involved. Tweeting comments about how Comey better hope there are no tape recordings, Trump himself saying he thought Comey had to go, comments at press briefs that part of it had to do with the belief the investigations were going on too long (“you aren’t investigating me, right? this business is dumb” is in context not free from coercion) doesn’t help here.

    • Brett Bellmore says:

      “I’m fine with suspicions but everyone trustworthy isn’t going to be on the record,”

      And the people who aren’t trustworthy absolutely aren’t going on the record…

      Interesting reasoning, at that link, but I always assumed that FBI directors weren’t made of wet toilet paper, that they actually had spines. And,

      “But more likely, the question reflects Trump’s desire to exercise his political power to control a criminal investigation that he finds inconvenient”

      The presumption of guilt, which has become standard in reporting on Trump.

      I could see how this question could lead to deciding Comey has to go; He asks Comey, and gets a “No.”. The rumors continue. He asks him again, the rumors continue. He asks him again, gets “No”, and says, “Well, then hold a press conference, tell the public what you’re telling me.” And Comey response, “Sorry, Mr. President, but it’s contrary to Bureau policy to publicly comment on such matters.” And at THAT point Trump decides Comey is an a**hole who desperately needs to be fired.

      Of course, that’s just an imaginary conversation up until the time I make a phone call, and become an unnamed source.

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