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National Govt & Politics
Congress stunned by firing of FBI Director as Democrats demand special counsel probe of Trump-Russia ties
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Congress stunned by firing of FBI Director as Democrats demand special counsel probe of Trump-Russia ties

Congress stunned by firing of FBI Director as Democrats demand special counsel probe of Trump-Russia ties
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Congress stunned by firing of FBI Director as Democrats demand special counsel probe of Trump-Russia ties

In a surprise move, President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, with Justice Department officials citing Comey's bungled handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe as a main reason for his departure, as Democrats charged it was more of an effort to short circuit a probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, which they say might have ties to the Trump Campaign.

It was only the second time an FBI Director had been fired - the first was when President Bill Clinton ousted William Sessions (no relation to Jeff Sessions, the current Attorney General).

Let's look more closely at the Comey firing:

1. No apologies from President Trump for firing Comey. Whether or not the White House expected such a big reaction to the firing of the FBI Director, President Trump was his usual self on this story, as he went on Twitter to jab at Democrats over Comey. The White House even put out quotes from top Democrats - which were critical of Comey - to make the case that Democrats shouldn't mind his removal.

2. For many Republicans, this was overdue. While Washington, D.C. was stunned by the Trump move, some of his most ardent supporters were very pleased, and even more so enjoyed the President's words to the outgoing FBI Director. "I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors," Mr. Trump wrote to Comey. One interesting part of this letter is in the second paragraph, where the President notes that Comey told him - three times - that he was not the target of any investigation. "Best. Termination. Letter. Ever," tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

3. Once upon a time, Trump liked and didn't like Comey. During the 2016 campaign, both parties went back and forth on the FBI Director like a pair of kids going up and down on a playground seesaw. When Comey said there would be no charges against Clinton over her email server, Trump was not pleased. When Comey re-opened the probe before Election Day to check out new emails, Trump praised him. "It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made," Trump said at a rally in Michigan.

4. Once upon a time, Democrats liked and didn't like Comey. During the 2016 campaign, there were plenty of Democrats - and Hillary Clinton campaign officials - who wanted to see James Comey leave town in manacles, convinced he had put his thumb on the scale for Donald Trump. Even last week at a Senate hearing, several Democrats made clear their aggravation with Comey. But when the President fired Comey, suddenly some of those same critics turned instantly into Comey defenders. But some Clinton aides say that's not really what's at work.

5. Democrats ramp up calls for a special prosecutor. When it comes to questions about Russia, and 2016 election ties to the Trump Campaign, Democrats quickly called for a special prosecutor in the wake of the firing of the FBI Director, something they've been pushing for since the November elections. "The President’s sudden and brazen firing of the FBI Director raises the ghosts of some of the worst Executive Branch abuses," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

6. Some Republicans express concern about Comey firing. There were GOP voices who were not on board with the firing of the FBI Director by President Trump. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said he found the timing "very troubling." Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) labeled part of Mr. Trump's letter to Comey, "bizarre." The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) was even more blunt: "I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination," Burr said. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said the public deserves "an explanation for his immediate firing."

7. What happens to the Russia investigation? Technically, nothing changes with the FBI's Russia probe, as career officials who have been involved with it in the National Security Division, along with the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, will push ahead with their probe. But the White House was making clear what it thought should happen - that investigations into the Russia matter should be wrapped up. Remember - Comey was fired less than 24 hours after Mr. Trump had tweeted that investigations into any Trump-Russia links were a "total hoax."

8. Comey has stood by his handling of the Clinton email case. Just last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey defended how he handled the matter during the 2016 campaign, basically saying he felt like he needed to speak out, because to stay quiet - as normally would happen - might send a signal that something (or someone) was being protected by the FBI. "Even in hindsight, and this has been one of the world's most painful experiences, I would make the same decision," Comey said.

9. What were the reasons given for his firing? The White House issued a three page rundown by Rod Rosenstein, the new Deputy Attorney General, that spelled out the case against Comey, accusing him of violating norms of the Justice Department, and ignoring guidelines for how to handle investigations which don't lead to criminal charges. "Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes," Rosenstein wrote.

10. Nixon Library trolls Twitter on Comey. A few weeks ago, it was the Carter Library that poked at President Trump, by noting Jimmy Carter's 100 day record in terms of laws passed, executive orders issued and approval rating in the polls. Then, as news of the Comey firing spread on Tuesday, the Nixon Library in California did its best to spread some smiles on Twitter, saying President Trump had just done something that even Mr. Nixon had not.

Look for this story to keep bubbling for several days - especially since President Trump will meet on Wednesday with the Russian Foreign Minister.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

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  • A child has died after being hit by a truck in south Orange County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Troopers said the incident happened near East Wetherbee Road and Landstar Boulevard around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The child was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando for treatment where he died. FHP also said that it is not clear if the semi-truck driver knew whether it hit the child or not. This incident is not being reported as a hit-and-run at this time. They are still still searching for the involved semi-truck.
  • Idaho is known for its consistently high-quality potatoes, and now visitors can sleep in a giant fake one if they can afford $200 a night. As pointed out by the Detroit Free Press, a potato “hotel” the size of a small house is now a place people can stay.  It’s located in a field southeast of capital Boise.  Interested travels can check out its official Airbnb rental page: The actual prop is 28-feet long and made from steel, plaster and concrete.  It was made to celebrate the Idaho Potato Commission’s 75th anniversary, according to the Free Press, and has been on the road for the last seven years until owner Kristie Wolfe decided to let people stay inside. Here’s a video documenting its construction: (Video)
  • President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would turn to the Supreme Court if Democrats decided to pursue impeachment proceedings against him. >> Read more trending news “I DID NOTHING WRONG,” the president wrote in a series of tweets posted Wednesday. “If the partisan Dems ever tried to impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.” It was not clear how the Supreme Court could legally intervene if Congress moved to impeach Trump. The court ruled unanimously in 1993 that authority over impeachment trials “is reposed in the Senate and nowhere else,” according to government records and Politico. >> How does impeachment work? Here is the step-by-step process Joshua Matz, a lawyer specializing in constitutional law, told The Washington Post that Trump’s tweets reflected “a profound misunderstanding,” as the court has “no constitutional warrant to second-guess the substance of an impeachment judgment.” Calls for Trump's impeachment have grown following the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling. The special counsel said he found no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to win the 2016 presidential election, though he couldn't rule out the possibility that the president might have obstructed justice. >> What are the 10 times Mueller said Trump may have obstructed justice? “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” Mueller said in his report. “At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.” The report spelled out 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice by Trump.  U.S. Attorney General William Barr said at a news conference that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided after reading Mueller’s report that there was not enough evidence to bring charges against the president.
  • A local pet rescue organization is expanding and they need your help! Polka Dogz Pet Rescue stopped by the News 96.5 WDBO studios on Wednesday to introduce the staff to several of their dogs. President Heidi Hardman says they have been able to place more than 600 dogs in the 3 ½ years they have been operating. “We average about 200 a year and we’re growing from that and that is with a lot of seniors and special needs,” said Hardman. Polka Dogz is in the process of purchasing a new facility in Lake County that will give the dogs more room to roam and could allow the organization to take on more rescues. “We want suites in there, it’s not going to be cages, but the only time they’re going to be in their ‘rooms’ as we call them is for nap time and for overnights,” said Hardman. The home sits on 20 acres near Howey-in-the-Hills.  Hardman says they plan to build play yards and agility equipment.  Polka Dogz is accepting donations to help make the necessary upgrades to the property. To find out how you can help click HERE.   

Washington Insider

  • As President Donald Trump on Wednesday once more called for Congress to change America's laws dealing with illegal immigration, threatening again to close part of the Mexican border, and vowing to send more armed soldiers to help stop illegal immigrants trying to enter the United States, there was no evidence that Republicans in the Senate - or Democrats in the House - were ready to launch any legislative drive to help deal with the tide of migrants. In a speech at an opioids conference in Atlanta on Tuesday, the President again appealed for action to change what he said were 'horrible, obsolete, weak, pathetic, immigration laws.' 'And that's why I've declared a national emergency, which is exactly what it is,' Mr. Trump added. 'Our facilities are at full capacity,' Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said earlier this week, as he echoed the President's call for lawmakers to help deal with those coming across the border illegally. 'Congress must act with additional authorities, resources & tools in order to accomplish our humanitarian & security mission,' the new DHS chief tweeted. Earlier this week, the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said he was putting the final touches on an immigration package to be presented to his father in coming days. But there was no indication of whether that plan would be presented to Congress for action, of it would serve as only a partial guide for lawmakers on the politically sensitive subject. “We desperately need some immigration legislation,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Fox News earlier this month.  'It is finally time for us to step up and not only solve the crisis at the border, but do some changes to immigration laws that are sensible,' the Kentucky Republican added, saying it's time to end 'years of gridlock' on immigration matters. At this point though in the halls of the Congress, there is no indication that lawmakers will be voting on any immigration plan anytime soon. For obvious reasons, Democrats aren't interested in taking the lead for the President on immigration legislation, pointing back to early 2018, when a bipartisan Senate group seemingly reached an immigration deal which was acceptable to President Trump - only to watch him quickly tack away. 'The President put forth his criteria. He had the Senate Republicans and Democrats come together, proposed something to him and then he walked away from it,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Back in February 2018, the President's preferred immigration plan garnered only 39 votes, with 13 GOP Senators refusing to support Mr. Trump's nearly $100 billion package. That plan featured money to build a border wall, an end to chain migration, stopping a visa lottery, and a number of other immigration law changes desired by the President. But it won the votes of only three Democrats, mainly because it did not do enough to help younger illegal immigrant 'Dreamers' in the country under the DACA program. The House and Senate are currently out on a two week break for Easter; immigration legislation is not on the agenda in either legislative body at this point.