June 8, 2017: Trump Creepy, Not Criminal | Censorship Bias | Sessions Resignation
1. Comey: Trump Creepy, Not Criminal
The former F.B.I. director James Comey released his testimony yesterday before his much anticipated appearance this morning in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. If you were a liberal what you heard was that everything that has been reported in the press about Trump’s interference with Comey was correct.
But many in the Red Media had this takeaway: Comey told Trump that he wasnot under investigation. LifeZette’s headline read: “Comey Show Begins. Undercuts Claims of Trump Interference.” The Daily Caller’s headline said: "Comey Confirms He Repeatedly Told Trump He Was Not Under Investigation."
Fox News’s Halftime Report argues Comey’s testimony is a victory for the White House because Trump comes off as “creepy” rather than “criminal.”
Former FBI Director James Comey intends to testify not that President Trump tried to obstruct the bureau’s investigation to Russian efforts to compromise the 2016 election but rather that the president is uncouth.
In the prepared testimony Comey shared with the Senate Intelligence Committee ahead of his testimony Thursday, the former G-Man describes in detail a number of conversations he had with Trump in which the president sounds more than a little obsessed with the Russia probe but still staying on this side of obstruction.
Comey’s testimony describes increasing pressure from the president on Comey to help Trump lift “the cloud” of the Russia probe leading up to Trump’s dismissal of Comey on May 9.
There’s much discussion in Washington already about how creepy and inappropriate Trump sounds in Comey’s recounting, but the major victory for the White House is that Comey makes it clear that Trump’s conduct did not cross the line into obstruction or other illegal behavior.
Being a creep, after all, is not against the law.
Meanwhile on Twitter it was all out war of interpretations to set the stage as #ComeyDay trended big:
I know Leftists don't like facts, but...
1. Trump was not under criminal investigation
2. He had full authority to fire Comey
Comey’s told @POTUS he WAS NOT under investigation three times per his prepared testimony. Democrats and media have lied to voters #Covfefe
BING BING "Trump NEVER ASKED #Comey to drop entire Investigation & Comey TOLD Trump he Was NOT Under Investigation!"
The alt-right holds hope that the Russia investigation will turn out to be all smoke and no fire. Every time another congressional hearing does not reveal a concrete Russia tie, the conservatives become a little more cocky. Take Rush Limbaugh, who was thrilled that the director of the NSA, Mike Rogers, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats both dodged questions about Trump and Russia at the intelligence committee hearing yesterday:
The Democrats are convinced that somebody somewhere in the administration, in the executive branch, knows what a scumbag Trump is and has the goods on him, has the goods on his collusion with Russia, and they think if they just keep calling witnesses and bring these people up again and again, that at some point one of them is gonna crack and spill the beans. And every time this is met with eager anticipation, almost uncontainable anticipation, and it always blows up in their face. And it did today.
2. Terrorism and Censorship
In our Monday newsletter, we wrote how Fox & Friends had disavowed the suggestion of a guest, the British conservative Katie Hopkins, that “internment” might be appropriate for thousands of suspected terrorists. Still, the idea of some sort of more aggressive pre-emptive action toward radical Islamists is still circulating among conservatives.
National Review, for one, considers the current state of censorship to be hopelessly biased, and targets YouTube, in particular, for cracking down on Conservative voices and ignoring terrorist hate speech.
The selective censors at Google-YouTube still can’t competently distinguish terrorist hate speech from political free speech. Islamic hate preachers such as Ahmad Musa Jibril, whose bloodthirsty rants against non-Muslims reportedly inspired the London Bridge ringleader, have flourished.”
Meanwhile, The Sun, a British tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, also criticized YouTube: "As things stand, it is harder to upload a video featuring copyrighted music than one glorifying jihad."
What We’re Watching:
The criticism of YouTube is not just isolated to the Right. A Vice Motherboard article argues that YouTube could easily censor radical Islamic groups by using today’s technology, but does not:
YouTube already uses precisely the type of technology that could recognize much of these elements on its servers as such. So, if the company can recognize copyright-infringing material and other policy-violating content, then why can't it do so for propaganda from a group like IS or AQ?
Also noteworthy is that when YouTube removes a video from a terrorist media group like The Upload Knights, it doesn't always remove the channel that posted it, allowing the group and others like it to upload future videos more easily.”
Also of Note:
And while we are talking about censorship, Wired reports that advocates of free speech are suing the president over his Twitter account. No, not for his offensive posts but for blocking followers, which means that they can’t see his tweets or respond to them:
“In a letter sent to the President today, the Knight First Amendment Institute … argued that when Trump blocks people on Twitter, he’s violating their right to free speech. The letter contends that the @realdonaldtrump
Twitter feed is a “designated public forum,” no different from a city council or school board meeting. The First Amendment bars the government from censoring individuals in such forums, based on their views. Through the letter, the Institute asks Trump to unblock these accounts and stop blocking people in the future. If he doesn’t, the Institute will file a lawsuit, according to Katie Fallow, a senior fellow there.”
3. Sessions Resignation: Fake News
This week, multiple media sources reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered to resign. Sessions’ relationship with Trump has reportedly been on the rocks ever since he recused himself from the Russia-related investigations. Trump is also reported to blame Sessions for the fallout from the executive order for a travel ban that the courts have blocked. As of today, the White House has not expressed support for Sessions.
For some on the Right, the news was surprising but not shocking. Hot Air, which has been following Trump’s growing disenchantment closely, even went so far as to speculate whether Trump was “going to drop the axe on another top dog at the DOJ” on Tuesday. However, others on the Right were quick to call the reports “fake news.”
Bill Mitchell @mitchellvii of Your Voice America on YouTube, with 231K followers on Twitter, wrote:
Regarding the Jeff Sessions thing - wait to hear it from Trump himself. Don't trust ANYTHING out of NYTimes or WAPO.
Scott Presler @ScottPresler with 92.6K followers, tweeted:
Unless President Trump tweets it, I'm not buying the fake news being peddled about Sessions.
We need to extreme vet the media.
What We're Watching:
Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent for The New York Times, also had her doubts about the resignation reports. Haberman @maggienytimes tweeted yesterday:
Two things - if Sessions was serious about resigning, he would have. And Trump isn't firing someone who would leave him with Rosenstein.
4. The Solar Wall Panels
Trump baffled many this week when he floated the idea of putting solar panels on the proposed border wall with Mexico. But conservatives were not ruffled. Hotair summed up the zeitgeist this way: Conservatives need not fear -- Trump was merely pandering to liberals:
“I like the creative thinking here. I just hope Trump hasn’t convinced himself that Schumer and Pelosi are suddenly going to brighten up about a border wall because “we’ll do some clean-energy sh*t with it” or whatever. He should know better by now.”
5. Better than Clinton?
Trump’s poll numbers have been atrocious since the day he was elected, but, finally, at 138 days into his term, the president got some good polling news, according to Newsweek, or at least in comparison to Bill Clinton:
Different polling outfits put Trump at varying levels of approval, but the RealClearPolitics average had him at 39.8 percent Tuesday, while the weighted average from FiveThirtyEight had him at exactly 39 percent. Not great numbers, but still better than Clinton. On Day 138 of his presidency, just 37.8 percent of Americans approved of the job he was doing, according to FiveThirtyEight.
If you compare where each president stood at this point in the Gallup tracking poll, however, the two are deadlocked. The most recent Gallup survey pegged Trump's approval at 37 percent, theexact same figure the polling company found for Clinton in early June 1993. Trump's disapproval rating in the survey was far higher, however, outpacing Clinton at 57 percent to 49 percent.