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Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: We Must Have a Special Prosecutor

The firing of FBI Director James Comey makes an independent investigation of Trump and Russia more important than ever.

So Donald Trump fired James Comey because the FBI director mistreated Hillary Clinton last summer over her use of private emails.

Stop laughing.

Trump takes us for chumps. The Republic is nothing to him but a craps game. And he loads the dice.

In this case, he signs the letter dismissing Comey and hands it to his personal bodyguard to take over to the FBI office. But Comey isn’t there. He’s in Los Angeles, where he will hear on television that he has been dumped — and at first think it’s a practical joke. We are not making this up.

Hardly 24 hours has passed since Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general who in late January also was fired by Trump, testified before a Senate hearing that she had informed the White House that Trump’s duplicitous national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, had lied about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States and was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. But it took Trump another 18 days to fire him and then only after The Washington Post leaked what Yates had uncovered.

In her testimony Monday, Yates was such a straight arrow, the iconic public servant, and so devastatingly credible that the White House had to figure out how to blunt her testimony.

How to change the story? How to send the bloodhounds of the press howling down another trail?

Fire Comey, and say you don’t like the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email affair, although last year — gasp! — you lavished praise on him for doing exactly what you now say he screwed up.

“It took a lot of guts,” Trump said when Comey reopened his investigation of Clinton. But that was then and this is now. The irony of the man who screamed “Lock her up!” throughout his presidential campaign now trying to shed crocodile tears for “Crooked Hillary,” as Trump called his Democratic rival, would be hilarious if it wasn’t so very obviously cynical and contrived.

But clearly, something else is going on here. Could it be that Comey’s investigation of Russia’s interference with our election was getting closer and closer to Trump? Is that why the Trump gang pushed him out the nearest window?

And what about this statement in Trump’s brief letter officially dismissing Comey: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless, concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.” WHAT three occasions, and what did Comey say, when did he say it, and why? Or is Trump lying about that, too?

Bottom line: Is the White House simply trying to cover up the truth? That question answers itself.

And oh, let’s not forget Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the attorney general of the United States, who had to recuse himself from the investigation of Russia because he, too, had been dishonest about contacts with the Russian ambassador. Recused or not, he was directly involved in sacking Comey. Does anyone around Trump keep his word?

“Is the White House simply trying to cover up the truth? That question answers itself.”

Trump’s dismissal of Comey smacks of what the autocrats in Turkey, Egypt, and the Philippines would do – each of them praised recently by Trump, who clearly sees them as role models. It is also more than a little reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s 1973 Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon wanted to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox but his attorney general and deputy attorney general refused to do his dirty work. They were fired, too. In Sessions, Trump has a more compliant stooge.

The constant drip of evidence continues. There are reports that a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn. James Hohmann at The Washington Postnoted that at Monday’s Senate hearing, former director of national intelligence James Clapper “was asked about a news report that Britain’s intelligence service first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious interactions between Trump advisers and Russian intelligence agents. The same story also said multiple European allies passed along information in the spring of 2016. Asked if that is accurate, [Clapper] replied: ‘Yes, it is and it’s also quite sensitive… The specifics are quite sensitive.’”

How does Trump react? He fires off more of his querulous, defensive tweets, claiming the whole Russia story is “fake news.” That’s his response to just about everything. What was it Joseph Addison, playwright beloved by the Founders, said? Oh, yes: “Husband a lie, and trump it up in some extraordinary emergency.” No pun intended.

Trump is hiding something. Something extraordinary. To keep it hidden there is no end to the chaos he will stir at the highest level of government. Every day he lies lustily, as reflexively as the rest of us breathe, knowing some filth will stick. With each day he edges us closer to autocracy.

With the news of Comey’s sacking, the need is clear and more absolute than ever: We must have a special prosecutor to turn the stones over — or an independent and bipartisan commission with subpoena power and public hearings, like the 9/11 commission. Or both.

Trump’s presidency is deeply corrupted, our democracy is compromised, and the system of checks and balances is failing us.

He’s attempting a coup. No joke. We need the truth. Now.


Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason. He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards.

Michael Winship

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, was senior writer for Moyers & Company and Bill Moyers’ Journal and is senior writer of BillMoyers.com.


President Donald Trump (C) shakes hands with James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

2 comments on “Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: We Must Have a Special Prosecutor

  1. Daniel R. Cobb
    May 11, 2017

    If Trump claims he has no connections to Russia, no business interests there, I believe him, sure I do! Except for…

    – the Trump, firing Comey in the middle of Comey’s investigation of Trump thing
    – the FLYNN thing
    – the MANAFORT thing
    – the TILLERSON thing
    – the SESSIONS thing
    – the KUSHNER thing
    – the CARTER PAGE thing
    – the ROGER STONE thing
    – the Felix Sater thing
    – the Boris Ephsteyn thing
    – the Rosneft thing
    – the Gazprom thing
    – the Sergey Gorkov banker thing
    – the Azerbajain thing
    – the ‘I love Putin’ thing
    – the Sergey Kislyak thing
    – the Russian Affiliated Interests thing
    – the Russian Business Interests thing
    – the Alex Schnaider thing
    – the hack of – the DNC thing
    – the Guccifer 2.0 thing
    – the Mike Pence ‘I don’t know anything’ thing
    – the 35 Russians mysteriously dying thing
    – the President’s public request To Russia to hack Hillary’s email thing
    – the president’s house sale for $100 million at the bottom of the housing bust to the Russian fertilizer king thing
    – the Russian fertilizer king’s plane showing up in Concord, NC during his rally campaign thing
    – the Nunes sudden flight to the White House in the night thing
    – the Nunes personal investments in the Russian winery thing
    – the Cyprus bank thing
    – the President refusing to release his tax returns after he said he would if elected thing
    – the Republican Party’s rejection of an amendment to require him to show his taxes thing
    – the election hacking thing
    – the GOP platform change to – the Ukraine thing
    – the Steele Dossier thing
    – the Leninist Bannon thing
    – the Sally Yates can’t testify thing
    – the intelligence community’s investigative reports thing
    – the President’s reassurance that the Russian connection is all fake news thing
    – the Spicer’s Russian Dressing ‘nothing’s wrong’ thing
    – the Chaffetz not willing to start an investigation thing
    – the Chaffetz suddenly deciding to go back to private life in the middle of an investigation thing
    – the – the Lead DOJ Investigator Mary McCord suddenly in the middle of the investigation decides to resign thing
    – the Donald Trump junior thing claiming in 2008 that “the money is pouring in from Russia” thing
    – the Eric Trump claiming in 2014 that “we don’t rely on American banks. We have all – the funding we need out of Russia” thing.
    – the White House going into full-on cover-up mode, refusing to turn over the documents related to – the hiring and subsequent firing of Flynn thing
    – the Chaffetz and White House blaming the poor vetting of Flynn on Obama thing
    – the Poland and British intelligence gave information regarding the hacking back in 2015 to Paul Ryan and he didn’t do anything thing
    – the Agent M16 following the money thing
    – the president’s team Knew about Flynn’s involvement but hired him anyway thing
    – the Corey Lewendowski thing
    – the Preet Bharara firing thing but before he left he transferred evidence against Trrump to a state level Schneiderman thing
    – the Betsy Devos’ brother thing
    – the Sebastian Gorka thing
    – the Greg Gianforte from Montana thing
    – the VP Pence actually was warned about Flynn before he was hired thing
    – the Pence and Manafort connection thing
    – the 7 Allies coming forward with audio where the president was picked up in incidental wire tapping thing
    – the Carter Page defying the Senate’s order to hand over his Russian contact list
    – the President wants to veto Sally Yates’ testimony thing.

    Please credit Billy Pope for creating this list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Daniel R. Cobb
    May 11, 2017

    Thanks for posting this! We can’t wait a year to get to the bottom of the Trump disaster. Trump is a danger today, now. Mitch McConnell is working hard to drag out and eventually kill the Senate’s investigation of Trump, by choking off funding for that investigation, and Paul Ryan is running interference for Trump too. The Republicans needs to serve democracy and the nation, rather than their morally bankrupt party.

    Liked by 1 person

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