Ethics Observations On The Firing of FBI Director James Comey

President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the FBI, James B. Comey today. Rod Rosenstein, the new deputy AG who replaced Sally Yates, prepared a memo that recommended the firing, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions concurred.

Ethics Observations:

1. Here’s how the New York Times described the firing in its story’s opening sentence:

President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the law enforcement official leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

That’s pretty despicable, and as blatant an example of intentional negative spin as you are likely to see, even from the Times. There were so many justifications for firing Comey that the mind boggles. Attaching the act to the one elicit reason for firing Comey is just yellow journalism, and nothing but. The Times is really a shameless partisan organ now.

2. Should Comey have been fired? Of course. He didn’t have to be fired, but to say that at this point he was not trusted by either political party and was widely viewed as incompetent would be an understatement  The fact that his testimony before Congress last week was not only riddled with errors, but riddled with errors that made headlines, was reason enough to fire him.

From the Washington Post:
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The Word For The Notes On Hillary Clinton’s FBI Interview—And Everything Related To It—Is “Pathetic”

Hillaryshrug

Pathetic, adj.: arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.
Synonyms: pitiful, pitiable, piteous, moving, touching, poignant, plaintive, distressing, upsetting, heartbreaking, heart-rending, harrowing, wretched, forlorn

This is the word that constantly came to mind and heart as I explored the FBI’s notes (you can too, here) regarding Hillary Clinton’s decisive—at least in terms of saving her from prosecution—interview with the FBI. Everything about them arouses pity–for her, for us, for the nation. Let us count the ways.

1. Over at MSNBC, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, a fully committed operative of the Democratic Party, like most of his colleagues, and like them committed through his partisan bias to saving America from Donald Trump, was overcome with an attack of objectivity.  “It bothers me as an American citizen,” he said,  that the FBI didn’t record Hillary’s interview, and left Americans to ponder merely notes taken by one agent as the public tries to assess who it may be electing President in November. “Are you kidding me?!” Todd cried. “We’re releasing notes?!”

We’re releasing notes. It’s pitiable to see one of many prominent journalists who have tried so, so hard for eight years to paper over, minimize and otherwise shrug off the constant, near complete incompetence of the Obama Administration and every agency under it to be suddenly stung by the realization that this has consequences—for trust, for truth, for belief that the government isn’t actively engaged in suppressing it. Pathetic.

2. Some of you will recall that I was collecting the various partisan reactions to  FBI director James Comey’s statement announcing that the FBI would not be recommending Clinton’s indictment to ultimately gauge which party’s reaction was more ridiculous, irresponsible, dishonest and foolish. Democrats were claiming that Comey’s report, despite showing that Clinton had lied outright about her use of the private e-mails server, and that her recklessness had endangered U.S. intelligence, exonerated Hillary. Republicans were claiming that Comey’s statement and the decision not to prosecute was indefensible. I was waiting to learn what Hillary had said in her interview, as I assumed that it would have to be released before the election. To reveal a closely guarded Ethics Alarms secret, I was prepared to declare Republicans the “winner” of the competition, as obviously idiotic as it is to say that a report declaring Clinton incompetent and dishonest could possibly “exonerate” her. Reading the notes, however, and considering the fact that the F.B.I. only has these notes to show us, I am back to, as Bobby Fisher would say, square one. Which is pathetic.

3.  Why? Well, we have just learned that  Clinton had her server “wiped”  after the New York Times, on March 3, 2015, broke the story of the server system’s existence. At the same time, she and her surrogates were telling the news media and us, “I want the public to see my email,” even as she directed her henchmen to destroy it. The FBI knew this, yet still found Clinton’s actions just negligent, and not criminal. Five months later–back in those halcyon days when she actually held press conferences— she feigned ignorance when Fox News’s Ed Henry asked, “Did you wipe the server?” saying, “Like with a cloth or something?” Now we know, vie the FBI notes , that she had the server emptied using a sophisticated software program, BleachBit, that is designed to make purged e-mails virtually unrecoverable, and indeed several thousand of hers were successfully destroyed. Clinton got away with this, her supporters don’t think it matters, and the FBI apparently minimized these efforts to obstruct justice. Pathetic.
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Tales From The “Bias Makes Us Stupid” Files: Is It Possible That The News Media Really Thinks That Donald Trump’s Latest Stupid Blather Is More Newsworthy Than Hillary Trading State Department Favors For Foundation Contributions

Media bias

In a statement that is mindblowing for its shameless ethics ignorance, Slate editor Josh Voorhees wrote,

“The latest batch of State Department emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure, released Tuesday, further highlights the occasionally overlapping interests between the agency and the Clinton Foundation. The messages, which don’t directly involve the Democratic nominee herself, aren’t going to overshadow Donald Trump’s ongoing self-immolation—nor should they—but they are worth a closer look.”

“Nor should they?”

Nor should they?

By what possible set of warped values could the latest inanity from a Presidential candidate who constantly says silly, inarticulate and ultimately meaningless things the second they pop into what we generously call “his brain,” be more worthy of public attention than revelations that the other candidate for President used her position in the State Department for the enrichment of herself and her family?

The former is a well-established idiot free-associator idiotically free-associating with the same results he always gets. Why is this news? It is only news because the news media, knowing well that Trump just utters  jokes, ad-libs, random observations, musings, insults and all sorts of other things that adults never say in public because his confused and disoriented fans enjoy them, intentionally treats them as serious statements of a serious person, when they know very well he is not. The latest of these is the Trump assertion that Obama is “literally” the “founder of ISIS.” It is as newsworthy as if Trump said “Obama is literally a tree frog.” OK, everyone knows this isn’t true, and that Trump is a babbling fool. Got it. Next? Yet this non-story gets absurd attention: like at ABC News, The National Memo, Business Insider, Fox News Insider, Politicus USA, Washington Post, Raw Story, The New Civil Rights MovementDaily Kos, The Times of Israel, CBS New York, RT, Balloon Juice, New York Magazine, Guardian, Independent Journal Review, Mother Jones, NBC News,and Mediaite.

Before that, it was media hysteria over Trump’s bizarre “Second Amendment people” crack being a crime, which Popehat neatly debunks here. Ken White’s  opening statement is also enlightening: “Donald Trump, against all advice and rumors of pivot, will continue to be Donald Trump.”

Exactly. Which means his continuing to say stuff that mature and responsible people don’t say is not legitimate front page news.

Ah, but it provides an excuse not to explain to the public how stunningly corrupt Hillary is and has been. That is the objective, and an biased and unethical objective it is. Continue reading

Another Day, More Lies From Donald And Hillary. Whose Are Worse? How Will Their Supporters Excuse Them This Time?

Donald and Hillary

This election is going to be something to watch, with two compulsive, shameless liars each backed by ethically inert loyalists, fighting for the biggest prize in politics. I’m stocking up on Pepto.

Today’s edition of Lying Donald vs. Lying Hillary:

First let’s look at Trump’s lie, because it’s funnier: from the Washington Post:

“A recording obtained by The Washington Post captures what New York reporters and editors who covered Trump’s early career experienced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: calls from Trump’s Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with “John Miller” or “John Barron” — public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself — who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself, according to the journalists and several of Trump’s top aides.”

This is, of course, an early result of the Post’s “Let’s dig up embarrassing stuff on Trump” project, which Bob Woodward talked about this week. There is nothing wrong with the Post doing this with Trump; what is despicable is that they didn’t do it with Obama in 2008.

On the fake publicist story, the Post has Trump cold. He even confirmed that he masqueraded as “John Miller” and “John Barron” under oath in a lawsuit, and forensic experts have confirmed the voice is Trump’s. Never mind. Now he’s not under oath, so he’s denying it all. Trump  hung up on two Washington Post reporters when they asked him this afternoon about  masquerading as his own publicist in interviews and he lied directly to USA Today, saying: Continue reading