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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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Just got home, and plan to scour this transcript for signs it was indeed, as I wrote in December '16, the "Trumplandia" cabal in the NYC field office of the FBI that deliberately leaked info about the Clinton case to force Comey to reopen it and thereby give Trump the White House
1/ Comey said clearly that he "saw no evidence of [personal or political] bias" in the work of those assigned to the Trump counterintel investigation. We'll see if he's able to say the same thing about the NYC field office of the FBI and its investigation of Hillary Clinton.
2/ So I felt a frission of pleasure when Comey said that the two terms we should speak about when we speak about "collusion" are conspiracy and aiding and abetting. I felt pleasure because he and I seem to be the only people talking about *aiding and abetting* as to Trump-Russia.
3/ When I bring up "collusion" as a lay umbrella term for all the federal criminal statutes that could be violated through conduct a layperson would term "collusive" some say "Don't you mean Conspiracy?" and I say "No, that's just one charge—and don't forget Aiding and Abetting."
4/ There's actually something at stake in this. GOWDY desperately tries to get COMEY to agree that "collusion" is a synonym for "conspiracy," which it isn't for a host of reasons (some legal and some not), in part because the GOP does not want to admit that collusive behavior...
5/ ...can actually, when it crosses the line into criminal behavior, show up in *many* statutes—not just conspiracy. Not just aiding and abetting. It can lead, e.g., to obstruction of justice. Or witness tampering. Imagine—say—a man trying to help Russia *deny its culpability*.
6/ When Trump lied about his knowledge of who attacked us—knowing that, because by August '16 he was getting classified briefings, those lies would convince voters the Russians weren't responsible for attacking us—that was collusive conduct. Criminality was the *second* analysis.
7/ Oh, man... this is just...delicious.

Please read the far-right Republican question below knowing that Jared Kushner and the acting Attorney General just took a trip together on Marine One and that Jared's spouse Ivanka may be a target of the probe the acting AG is overseeing.
8/ TYPO: I meant "frisson."
9/ Jim, you card:
10/ In trying to nail Clinton (not because they actually can, but because "the base" loves it, inexplicably) the right keeps creating amazing transcripts that apply DIRECTLY to everything Trump does, as here:
11/ Comey notes Strzok was selected for the Clinton *and* Russia investigations because he was "among the best" counterintelligence professionals the FBI had—meaning he was "among the best" in America—and had a "very, very strong reputation." He wasn't there for any other reason.
12/ I wish there was a way to force every Republican in America to just *read* these words, issued under oath (re: their ongoing obsession with Peter Strzok as some sort of a Clinton operative):
13/ You have whole books—by two FNC grifters in particular—*predicated* on the idea that the man who wrote the letter that COST Clinton the election...

...was trying to help her WIN the election. It's so insane that it wouldn't make it past the front door of any police station.
14/ Not only did Peter Strzok write the letter that COST Clinton the election, he kept quiet a piece of closely held information that could have WON her the election. In short, no man at the FBI, save Comey, did more to put Trump in the White House than the man Trumpists despise.
15/ When Trump implies that no Democrat—or rather, since Mueller is a Republican, *neither* a Democrat *nor* a Republican—could ever investigate him honestly, he's smashing to bits our understanding as Americans that our partisan disagreements *never* trump the rule of law. Thus:
16/ Comey, UNDER OATH, confirms that he is NOT friends with Robert Mueller—as the president, who REFUSES to go under oath, repeatedly insists.
17/ And:
18/ Here's former FBI General Counsel James Baker making the same sort of point I made earlier, i.e. that obstruction of justice can be the result of collusive intent and behavior:
19/ Baker notes that obstruction can obstruct the course of one investigation *and/or* the ability of investigators to achieve broader ambitions—in this case determining the scope of Russian attacks on the United States. I've always viewed Trump's obstruction as a collusive act.
20/ This matters because, when and as Articles of Impeachment are drawn up, Democrats and allied Republicans are going to have to *learn how to build a lexicon* for discussing what Trump did. And right now they clearly do not have that particular focus or that particular skill.
21/ Did Trump collude? Yes. Were all of his collusive acts criminal? Many—but not all—were. Are all of his *illegal* collusive acts chargeable as "conspiracy"? No—his criminal collusive behavior includes obstruction, witness tampering, bribery, aiding and abetting, and much else.
22/ The first thing autocrats do is destroy language. Trump has set about destroying the language with which we talk about the criminal justice system—both to/as laypeople and otherwise—and Democrats have done NOTHING to push back. They must start now—not when impeachment begins.
23/ Thus we have obstruction-as-collusion as part of the equation of what Trump did during his course of collusion with the Russians:
24/ So Trump at points obstructed justice not as a statutorily constituent part of an criminal conspiracy, but as part of a course of collusion—using the term here as a lay term—with some criminal parts, and some noncriminal; some chargeable as conspiracy, some as other things.
25/ Democrats should under no circumstances cede the term "collusion" as somehow irrelevant, as it's both powerful and relevant to the narrative; nor should they—when they speak of collusion—agree with the Republicans that "collusion" and "conspiracy" are synonymous. They're not.
26/ I find it fascinating that Comey returns to the phrase "aiding and abetting" multiple times. I've been using that phrase for a year and have felt alone, as everyone seems to see how "conspiracy" is relevant (and I agree!) but not how "aiding and abetting" is.

Spoiler: it is.
27/ Okay, so because what I really want to do is re-watch Nirvana Unplugged, I'm going to skip to the Giuliani bit. Comey says (pg. 152) he was indeed "concerned" because of a "leak problem" suggesting Trump adviser Giuliani had "knowledge of workings inside the FBI NY [office]."
28/ So first, it'd be illegal for anyone to give Giuliani such intel. Second, it's impossible to imagine—one month before a presidential election in which Giuliani's man, Trump, was a candidate—anyone in the NYC FBI office leaking to Giuliani for anything but a political purpose.
29/ Here's where I struggle:

1. Comey learns that NYC FBI agents are leaking to Team Trump for what could only be a political purpose.
2. Comey is concerned.
3. Comey rewards the leakers by partially reopening the Clinton investigation because of his concern about their leaking.
30/ In other words, Comey interceded in the election in a way that dramatically benefitted Trump at a time when he had every reason to believe that his intercession was *partially* prompted by rogue FBI agents in NYC who were *already* interceding in the election—and *illegally*.
31/ If Comey believed there were leaks; believed them to be *political* leaks; was caused concern by them; and interceded in the election partially *because* of them, how did he not consider the possibility he was effectuating a conspiracy coordinated in part by Trump's campaign?
32/ It seems like Comey never considered the possibility he was being played even in the midst of some *very* strange occurrences—and I don't just mean the leaks, I mean the NYC field office *sitting on thousands and thousands of critical emails* after being asked to review them.
33/ Don't get me wrong—Comey understood he was being played to the point of *ordering an FBI investigation into it*. Yet he nevertheless allowed the fruit of the potential conspiracy—unnecessarily unreviewed emails and a danger of political leaks—to *achieve its desired purpose*.
34/ What's stunning is how the FBI drags its feet on investigating the conspiracy: they wait until after the election, despite not understanding the conspiracy *pre-election* causing them to do what the conspiracy wanted them to do—reopen Clinton's case and put Trump in the Oval.
35/ Even Comey's language is couched to underplay the urgency of the probe (lest he make plain how critical yet *belated* it was): per Comey, the FBI wanted to "BEGIN to TRY and understand, DO we have leaks...?" That language deliberately undersells the gravity of the situation.
36/ Insult to injury: Comey then explains that the only person disciplined for leaks was...

...Andrew McCabe—for entirely unrelated leaks to the media. So essentially he's saying that no one ever heard *anything* about the NYC Field Office-Giuliani leak investigation ever again.
37/ So in summary, as Republicans investigate TRUMP'S BIGGEST ASSET at the FBI for allegedly being part of a plot to destroy him, neither Democrats nor the FBI are able—or perhaps even willing—to investigate an evident conspiracy that *directly* helped give Trump the White House.
38/ So all that said, I'll make a somewhat controversial point: that we may not have heard the end of this, because when IG Horowitz said he was going to deal with Giuliani in a separate report that report never happened. Do I think he was lying? No. What I *wonder* is whether...
39/ ...Mueller or Rosenstein or someone else asked Horowitz to *hold off* on issuing a report for the same reason Comey can't talk about certain things: because it could negatively impact the Mueller investigation. IOW, we don't *know* Giuliani won't be in Mueller's final report.
40/ I've already said that *4 people* involved in the Trumplandia conspiracy—Prince, Trump Jr., Flynn, and Bannon—are also involved in the Russia investigation, so isn't it actually pretty reasonable to think that Mueller asked Horowitz to stand down? I guess we'll find out. /end
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