Trump’s Need for Scapegoats

President Trump’s use of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s credibility to cover for the clumsy firing of FBI Director Comey has echoes of President Bush’s bogus WMD claims about Iraq, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein came into his present job with bipartisan support and a positive reputation as an apolitical prosecutor who had served ably as a U.S. attorney under both the previous two administrations. Now many are asking how someone like that could allow himself to become a tool of Donald Trump in one of the messiest and most controversial firings ever of a senior official.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Much of the dysfunction, ruthlessness, and ineptitude associated with the sacking of James Comey as FBI director is specific to Trump and his presidency, but we have seen before the exploitation for blame-shifting purposes of the work of honest and earnest public servants.

We don’t know exactly what transpired in conversation among the President, Attorney General, and Deputy Attorney General about the FBI directorship. Maybe there is a recording that someday will tell us that. But given what we know from the characteristics of the personages involved and other indications, it is easy to reconstruct a plausible way such a conversation went.

The President summons the Justice Department officials to discuss problems involving the FBI director. The conversation addresses some of Comey’s missteps in handling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Rosenstein, an experienced prosecutor attuned to the details of correct relations between prosecutors and investigators, had already developed thoughts on this subject, some of which he conveys to the President in the conversation.

The President instructs Rosenstein to put down on paper a more thorough rendering of ways in which Comey did not properly observe roles and rules regarding the FBI and the Justice Department. The conversation ends, and Rosenstein goes away with his writing assignment.

The White House then uses the resulting memorandum as supposed justification in announcing the firing of Comey, with the initial White House version being that the President was acting on the recommendation of the Justice Department leadership — which primarily meant Rosenstein, given that his memo was the main piece of paper released as justification, and given that the President and whoever else in the White House may have been influencing him on this were eager to exploit Rosenstein’s reputation as an upstanding and nonpartisan player with pure motivations.

Rosenstein’s Surprise

But Rosenstein did not recommend that Comey be fired. His memo does not say so, and given that it doesn’t, it is unlikely that he made any such recommendation orally either. It thus is not surprising to read reports that Rosenstein was so upset about the White House portraying him as responsible for firing Comey that Rosenstein was on the verge of resigning. He has a right to be upset.

President Trump delivers his brief speech to the nation explaining his decision to launch a missile strike against Syria on April 6, 2017. (Screen shot from

Possibly the prospect of a Rosenstein resignation over this issue was part of what led Trump then to offer a much different explanation, in which Trump admitted that he had already decided to fire Comey no matter what the Justice Department leaders said and that what was on his mind in doing so was the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Set aside for the moment all the other inconsistencies and falsehoods that define the Trump presidency, and there are two important takeaways from this episode and specifically Rosenstein’s role in it. One is that it is erroneous to treat confirmation that a problem exists, or has existed, as if such confirmation constitutes a case for taking a specific drastic action in the name of correcting that problem — especially if the action involved is apt to have other untoward and costly consequences.

Certifying that James Comey exceeded his role or made other mistakes in handling a case last year does not constitute a case for firing him this year. There is nothing inconsistent in being sharply critical of some of Comey’s earlier actions and also being opposed to cutting short what is supposed to be a ten-year term for FBI directors, a term established by law partly to try to insulate the bureau from the vicissitudes of politics. (The only other FBI director to be fired short of term, William Sessions, was dismissed for specific ethical violations involving use of public resources for private purposes.)

The other takeaway is that an honest public servant, doing his best to respect rules and assigned roles, and trying to perform his own role with objective judgment and insight, has been used by his political masters as a scapegoat for their own controversial actions. The temptation for political masters to do this sort of thing can be great, and not just for a Donald Trump.

The nonpolitical bureaucracy, or a nonpolitical individual who rises as high as Rosenstein has risen, offers a stamp of nonpartisanship, objectivity, and often expert authority that can deflect attention from less commendable motives or methods that the political masters used in arriving at their decision.

The WMD Precedent

Now roll the tape back a decade and a half, as the George W. Bush administration was mounting its big sales campaign for launching a war in Iraq. The war was something neocons had long sought, and the sudden change in public mood after 9/11 finally brought their ambition politically within reach. But remaking the politics and economics of the Middle East according to the neocon dream would not work as the basis for selling to the American public a step as drastic as initiating the first major offensive war the United States had begun in over a century.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

So the war-makers came up with a sales pitch about the horror of dictators giving weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to terrorists. Because dictators, unconventional weapons, and terrorism were all things that the U.S. intelligence community routinely follows, there was an opportunity to pick out portions of what the community says and to use that output to get the sought-after stamp of nonpartisanship, objectivity, and expert authority. That’s what was done with the topic of weapons of mass destruction.

The WMD issue was not the reason the Bush administration launched the Iraq War. I have discussed at length elsewhere the whole story of why and how it was not the reason.

Some of the key facts include the longstanding prior neoconservative ambition to start exactly this war, the orders by the President to prepare war plans well before the intelligence community had even begun work on the estimate that would become pointed to most often as a rationale for the war decision, the disinterest of the administration in the intelligence except for the tidbits that could be used publicly as part of the sales campaign, and the fact that even the notorious intelligence estimate included the judgment that Saddam Hussein was unlikely to use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. interests or to give them to terrorists except in the extreme situation of an invasion of his country with the intention of overthrowing his regime by force.

As avid war promoter Paul Wolfowitz later admitted in an unguarded comment in an interview, the WMD issue was just a convenient topic on which people could agree, not the reason the war was fought.

Perhaps most important, the presumed existence of unconventional weapons in the hands of a nasty regime does not imply that it is wise to launch an offensive war to topple that regime. If it were, we should have invaded North Korea years ago. The Iraq War was another case of erroneously treating presumed confirmation of a problem as a case for taking a specific drastic action in the name of addressing that problem.

Making Scapegoats

The Iraq War also was another instance of public servants — in this case those working in the intelligence community — being used by their political masters as scapegoats for the masters’ own controversial decisions. The intelligence agencies certainly did not advocate launching the war, and it would not have been their role to opine on that. With no policy process leading to Bush’s decision, there was no opportunity for them to offer any such opinion even if they wanted to.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The intelligence judgments on the other major part of the sales pitch — the supposed alliance between Saddam’s regime and al-Qaeda — were contrary to the assertions in the pitch. And as for what turned out to be far more important than any of the themes in the sales campaign, pre-war intelligence community analysis correctly anticipated most of the costly political and security mess and internal strife to which Iraq succumbed, and with which U.S. forces had to deal, after the invasion.

When the output of public servants is used — or rather, misused — in the way it was in these two cases, the use is not predicated on that output being accurate. Whether Rosenstein was correct, as a matter of either fact or judgment, in what he said in his memorandum about Comey had no bearing on the Trump White House’s decision to use him and his memo as a public rationale for firing the FBI director. Whether the intelligence community was correct or not about the various aspects of Iraqi weapons programs did not determine how the Bush administration used the intelligence output on the subject as a public rationale for launching the war.

There also usually is not much relevance to costs and outcomes. Whatever happens in investigating connections between Trump and Russia, the investigation will not depend, with or without Comey, on how Comey handled the question of Hillary Clinton’s emails. And even if every word that the intelligence agencies issued about Iraqi unconventional weapons had been correct, post-invasion Iraq still would have been just as much of a bloody mess and the U.S. occupation would have been just as much of a costly quagmire. If anything, the existence of WMD would have made the war even more bloody and costly than it actually was.

Distrust of Trump

One difference between these two cases is that the fallacy associated with the blame-shifting has endured in one case but already been shot down in the other. One still hears, especially but not only from the war promoters in the Bush administration, that the United States went to war because of faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. But the notion that James Comey was fired because of something Rod Rosenstein said didn’t last a week.

Donald Trump speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

It probably would not have lasted even if Trump himself had not soon contradicted that rationale. The political milieu, in the partisan sense, has much to do, of course, with which beliefs endure and which do not. In the case of the invasion of Iraq, Democrats who supported going to war have been just as happy as their Republican colleagues to shift blame for their own mistake to an unpopular bureaucracy.

Supporters of Trump’s move regarding the FBI director tried to generate a similar dynamic by reminding people of how unhappy many Democrats have been about Comey’s handling of the Clinton email matter, but this attempt to win Democratic support did not stick.

Probably the main reason for the difference is that the themes in the Bush administration’s war-selling campaign were relentlessly sustained for more than a year. The impact of this sheer repetition was reflected in how even where a theme was not supported by the intelligence community’s judgments, as was the case regarding terrorist connections, the administration won many believers, including ones led to believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. The Trump White House, by contrast, has shown that it has difficulty sustaining a theme for a week, never mind a year.

These comparisons raise a larger question of how Trump’s presidency is in a league by itself regarding lack of credibility. Less than four months into this administration, much of the media and other observers already have learned not to trust anything this President and his surrogates say. This explains much of why version 1.0 of the White House’s explanation for why Comey was fired was immediately met with widespread incredulity.

But it’s not as if all the outrageous things this President does are wholly without precedent. It is individual statements and actions, not any one person, that can be extreme and beyond the pale. The Bush administration did an extreme thing by starting a major offensive war under false pretenses and then not owning up to the responsibility and instead shifting blame for the calamitous result. But in most other respects that administration was more of an ordinary presidency and not Trump-like. So it was better able than Trump to hoodwink people when it did do an extreme thing.

The cascade of falsehoods and other excesses that characterize Trump’s presidency still has the major cost of being a self-lowering bar as far as standards of conduct are concerned, with the country’s sense of propriety being dulled and with many things that would cause outrage or scandal in another presidency instead eliciting a ho-hum “that’s Trump being Trump” reaction. But at least in some instances, the incredulity and suspicion that Trump has understandably generated enable the country to smell a rat more quickly than it otherwise would.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.) 

96 comments for “Trump’s Need for Scapegoats

  1. May 21, 2017 at 04:28


  2. Stiv
    May 17, 2017 at 16:12

    Man, this site has gathered more than it’s share of nut cases. Ron Unz, really? I wouldn’t discount everything he says or writes about, but I certainly wouldn’t take it as fact.

    The article here is a reasoned view..not far away from Parry’s best writings and certainly far better than his worse. Now if he keeps repeating the same lines, like Parry, I’d change my mind. But even Parry broken from that trend a bit.

    You Trumpies…and a lot of you are, you can’t fool me…and your love for totalitarian practices, can suck eggs.


    • May 17, 2017 at 17:55

      well. the nutcase count seems to have gone up by 1….if ur a shillary for Killary, u know where u can put the eggs we suck…very few pro Trumpies here…it would be a hoot to have u enlighten us on ur superior views in any case…

  3. May 17, 2017 at 12:56

    It is sickening to see the villains that caused all this trouble in the world of today being quoted on TV “news” and other “media” The propaganda pushers are working overtime. See link below:

  4. Bill Goldman
    May 17, 2017 at 11:01

    Pillar expended a lot more words arguing for Trump’s ouster via impeachment than Parry did in the article that folllows arguing for the opposite course. That indicates to me that he has less confidence in his position. When all the facts come out, we’ll learn that Russia played no role in Trump’s election victory or Clinton’s loss; that Comey was a pro-Clinton partisan; and that the Deep State opposes detente with Russia. Too bad that Americans have been brainwashed into thinking of Putin as a thug when he is really a pragmatic intellectual and statesman and a genuine Russian patriot contrasted with the emptiness and corruption in American politicians.

    • mike k
      May 17, 2017 at 11:41

      Right. Trump is a problem, not The problem. The Empire of greed and violence trumps Trump as the Star of this ugly drama.

  5. May 17, 2017 at 10:51

    i believe the “Deep State/Establishment” are terrified that Trump might expose their machinations. I also believe this is going to end badly for the American people. The Status Quo “elites” want their control back, and Trump has to go. Then its back to “business as usual.” Say a prayer for America

    • mike k
      May 17, 2017 at 11:38

      I’ll say a prayer for the world, including all Beings in this world. I have no special brief or preference for America. “America is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” MLK

  6. backwardsevolution
    May 17, 2017 at 06:55

    This impeachment business ramping up just proves that some people are now getting desperate. Is the truth about to be revealed? Are people getting too close to the details?

    • mike k
      May 17, 2017 at 08:10

      Those hiding and distorting the truth are doubling down on their lies in desperation. Their Ponzi scheme of untruths is heading for collapse. I fear they may do something like starting a major war to distract us from their increasingly obvious bankruptcy. These neocon rats are dangerous when cornered.

      • May 17, 2017 at 10:20

        yes indeed…i remember seeing and learning this early on…when they are desperate enough, they will shoot your children at school…if it will move their agenda forward…remember Kent State…

  7. backwardsevolution
    May 17, 2017 at 06:51

    “Certifying that James Comey exceeded his role or made other mistakes in handling a case last year does not constitute a case for firing him this year.”

    Why not? Trump doesn’t know the law. Perhaps someone pointed out the seriousness of just exactly what Comey did or didn’t do: “No subpoenas. No follow-up of interviews. No grand jury. Lawyers were allowed to destroy laptop computers. Immunity was handed out like candy.” Hillary used Bleach Bit on her emails, hard drives were destroyed, and the FBI doesn’t even inspect the servers, relying on some independent company (Crowdstrike). And then Comey, whose bureau is only supposed to collect evidence, decides on his own that there was “no intent” on Hillary’s part. That’s not his job; that’s up to the Attorney-General’s office to decide. Besides, the law doesn’t stipulate that “intent” is the determining factor.

    Talk about obstruction of justice!

    “There is nothing inconsistent in being sharply critical of some of Comey’s earlier actions and also being opposed to cutting short what is supposed to be a ten-year term for FBI directors.”

    Comey will be lucky if he doesn’t spend the ten years behind bars. That’s where he should be, along with Hillary, her lawyers, Loretta Lynch, Podesta, Eric Holder, Obama, etc. And if Comey has been sitting on Seth Rich’s laptop, and if that laptop shows that Seth Rich was the one who gave the emails to Wikileaks, then all hell is going to break loose.

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 17, 2017 at 11:01

      Realist I’m no lawyer, but lawyers tell me that espionage charges don’t have a ‘intent’ clause attached to the charge. In other words even stupid talk, or carelessness mistakes, can get one in deep trouble. That sailor who had photos of his secure space inside the submarine he was stationed on is serving time in the brig. Jeffrey Sterling is serving time based upon nothing more than allegations. Hillary got a get out of jail card, because she is who she is. In fact even if Hillary did use a government computer, and not her private servers, she would be responsible to only distribute her memos and messages to those who have ‘a need to know’. When I served in the Navy many moons ago we were warned everyday how even the unclassified material was to be guarded as close as the secret material….this stuff is serious business, that is unless you are Hillary Clinton.

      • backwardsevolution
        May 17, 2017 at 13:23

        Joe – yes, you’re right, there is no requirement to prove “intent”. But just for fun, let’s look at Hillary’s intent. Her initial intention for using private servers was to get around Freedom of Information requests re the Clinton Foundation and pay to play. And then, when caught, she erases, destroys, and Bleach Bits the evidence. Intent to hide, and then intent to cover up.

        That guy on the submarine didn’t have intent, and what he did pales in comparison to what she did. What Hillary did is unconscionable and disturbing, especially from a seasoned politician and a lawyer.

        Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were trying to help their country. Hillary was trying to help herself. So if I were a judge and I was looking at intent (re sentencing) with her, I’d throw away the key.

        • Joe Tedesky
          May 17, 2017 at 13:52

          backwardsevolution, I called you Realist, which to either of you is a compliment, but I’ll try to pay closer attention to who I address my comments to in the future.

          I agree with you on Hillary’s intent. In my way of looking at her, she had ill intent all along with her personal servers in her basement. I also find it very disheartening that she was allowed to skate through her investigation as much as she did. I’d like to see how well I would do refusing to let the FBI search through my computer. In fact, I wonder how legal it would be for one of us to refuse that kind of inquiry. Although, I think Cheney and Rove are still not answering the Congressional subpoena that they were served with….let alone them having any real investigation to Iraq not have WMD’s, but hey that old news.

          No that sailor aboard the submarine who is currently serving time in the brig, and Sterling who is now in prison, are more of what is the norm. Hillary is not the norm in any way shape or form.

          Hooray for Chelsea. I hope Chelsea finally has peace in her life, because I feel she deserves it. I also hope I live long enough to see Edward Snowden treated with respect, because after all his disclosures were meant for the average people to become aware of the overreaching surveillance that prevails within our society.

          • backwardsevolution
            May 17, 2017 at 14:12

            Joe – totally agree with you and, yes, I would also dearly love to see Edward Snowden come home, no questions asked, no charges laid. Must be a happy day for Chelsea Manning.

            Until Hillary Clinton and others are charged with their offences (committed with personal gain in mind), I don’t think the country can go forward. This phoney “Russia is our enemy” narrative was instigated in order to take our minds off the truly nefarious activities of Hillary Clinton.

            Cheers, Joe.

  8. quirkinthemix
    May 17, 2017 at 05:58

    The press has not been killed. It is too useful. It has been hijacked by those who would use it as a weapon against the people.

    And, who might they be?

  9. May 16, 2017 at 23:31

    I believe the words below could describe the present situation.

    They talk about law and order, and the rule of law too
    These evil, lying, war criminals that rule over me and you
    They wear expensive suits and live a life of ease
    They destroy many other lives in countries across the seas

    They have not been held to account for all their evil depredations
    The invasions, the bombings, the killings, and destruction in many nations
    They and their lackeys are the powerful gangsters of the earth
    Some have fancy “honourable” titles. Was hell their place of birth?

    Are they helpers of the devil and satanic followers too?
    Are they responsible for a number of hellish coups?
    Did atrocities follow, from what they plotted and planned?
    Is hell upon earth the result, of their “work,” in many lands?…

    [more info at link below]

    • mike k
      May 17, 2017 at 07:58

      Your poem would make a great song. I would love to see it go to the top of the charts, and have everybody humming it and taking it deep within themselves…..

  10. Operation Dinner Outlaw
    May 16, 2017 at 20:01

    Let’s Dance

    Arthur: What is it?
    Joan: I’ve allowed Annie to travel to Russia to prove Lena’s presence in-country.
    Arthur: What?
    Joan: And I’ve provided her with funds and an active cover.
    Arthur: The agency has suspended all tactical missions on this front. I just gave the DCI my word literally this morning that we were done with this.
    Joan: Arthur, she was going to go anyway. I just wanted to make sure she did it safely.
    Arthur: Is it going to be safe?
    Joan: I don’t know.
    Arthur: I can fire you for this. You know that, right? How is it going to look if she dies?
    Joan: How is it going to look? I don’t know, but it will feel terrible.

    Now with Trump you know it will be less safe. That why there’s the press panic cries. Plus the idea of killing the press Russian style isn’t real comforting.

    • mike k
      May 16, 2017 at 20:17

      We don’t need to kill the press in the US. It’s doing a great job of that on it’s own.

      • Realist
        May 17, 2017 at 02:30

        The press has not been killed. It is too useful. It has been hijacked by those who would use it as a weapon against the people.

  11. delia ruhe
    May 16, 2017 at 18:02

    All Americans had to do before taking for granted that Bush-Cheney-Rummy-Condi and Blair were right was look around and see how many “allies” responded positively to the administration’s call for a “coalition of the willing.” How many was it? Zero. Next time you get a chance to view that footage of Colin Powell delivering that fantasy intelligence report to the Security Council, just pay close attention to the faces as the camera pans the chamber: expressions range from boredom to eye-rolling.

    Unlike Americans, these SC members paid attention to the two interim reports from Blix and ElBaradei, whose careful delivery of their findings was unmistakable: they found NO EVIDENCE of WMD or a reconstituted nuclear program — and they wanted to complete their investigation, please. No way: the admin wanted no further reports from these guys because if they were permitted to finish their investigation, what they would report would throw a grenade into the Anglo-American propaganda narrative.

    What makes Americans so gullible is their belief in themselves as citizens of the “exceptional,” “indispensable,” “divinely ordained” UsofA, so vastly superior to every other nation that they don’t need to pay any attention to them. Is that still true of Americans? Possibly not — which is why Bernie and Trump had such an impact during the Primaries. I just hope Trump, in his ignorance and ineptitude, doesn’t end up scaring Americans back into the arms of the elites and the status quo.

    • mike k
      May 16, 2017 at 19:10

      Yes, Trump sure makes a strange kind of hero to change government, cut back on foreign adventures, make peace with Russia etc. We might be better off with Don Quixote. I guess you gotta go with what you got. Pray for a miracle, but don’t bet the farm on it….

    • Bill Bodden
      May 16, 2017 at 20:07

      What makes Americans so gullible is their belief in themselves as citizens of the “exceptional,” “indispensable,”…

      Another factor that makes Americans so gullible is the tradition of being lied to from the time they understand the spoken word.

      • mike k
        May 16, 2017 at 20:20

        Yes. We are not born gullible; we have to be taught that. The older generation doesn’t know any better than to just pass on the BS they were brought up on.

      • Realist
        May 17, 2017 at 02:24

        How does a country become “corrupt?” When conspicuous malefactors cease being brought to justice because they have money and friends in high places is how. The public notices and decides that if the rules don’t apply to the well-connected they don’t apply to anyone. Conspicuous victimization and persecution of the weak and poor by authorities representing the rich and powerful will have the same effect. America has been corrupt for most of its history. Part of its corruption is denial of this reality and substituting fiction for fact in the history books. We’ve had most of the world fooled for most of our history. I think (hope) they may be catching on.

        • Bill Bodden
          May 17, 2017 at 12:28

          How does a country become “corrupt?” When conspicuous malefactors cease being brought to justice because they have money and friends in high places is how.

          Gee, Realist, didn’t you pay attention when President Barack Obama said no one is above the law? He wouldn’t have lied to us, would he?

    • tina
      May 16, 2017 at 22:14

      We are already in the arms of Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Daddy-O. They are the elite and the status quo. Did you see any public service from anyone of them? Did you see them making lots of money? Do you think they want to risk/lose their elite and financial status, so that the public might benefit? Pal, theses people don’t even eat us for lunch, or even a snack, they disdain us so much , we are dog food to them.

      • Realist
        May 17, 2017 at 02:26

        Yeah, but if you think the folks trying to bring them down intend to do a service for the American people, think again. They represent forces just as bad, if not worse.

      • Skip Scott
        May 17, 2017 at 08:13


        I don’t know Jared Kushner’s pedigree, but I can tell you that the Trumps are looked down upon by the real elites. The Trumps are “Nouveau Riche”. The real elites are old money. They look down their noses and laugh at the likes of “the Donald.”

        • Bill Bodden
          May 17, 2017 at 12:33

          I don’t know Jared Kushner’s pedigree,…

          Jared’s dad did some time for, I believe, tax evasion. Prosecutor? Chris Christie who was kicked off the Trump bandwagon after Jared took up an advisory position to President The Donald.

          Sign of the times: Chelsea Clinton’s father-in-law, like Ivanka’s father-in-law, also did some time in the slammer.

          • Skip Scott
            May 17, 2017 at 20:11

            Thanks Bill. Can’t say I’m surprised. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That said, I really appreciated your exchange with Joe about his Dad. Integrity is something we learn from our elders.

  12. May 16, 2017 at 17:58

    Trump is not perfect and is being criticized for some of his actions, by some of those who supported him, and those that hate him. But hey, he was elected. Now the “deep state” or the “establishment,” call them what you will, are hell bent on overturning Democracy.
    I believe what we are seeing is: “The Ganging Up On Donald Trump”
    [Much more info at link below]

    • backwardsevolution
      May 16, 2017 at 18:38

      Stephen J. – great links! Thank you.

      • May 16, 2017 at 19:58

        Thanks. Glad to be of help, backwardsevolution, I try to provide information.
        Cheers Stephen J.

  13. SteveK9
    May 16, 2017 at 17:00

    Paul: Since you refer to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, I would ask whether you have read the full text of his memo to the Attorney regarding ‘Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI’. If you do, you may reach some different conclusions to those you’ve expressed here. A very impressive group of former Attorney’s General and Deputy Attorney’s General believe that Comey’s actions in exonerating Clinton of wrongdoing … on his own bat, and then later ‘reopening the investigation’ were entirely inappropriate. Some of these former officials believe that the damage to the credibility of the FBI may be irreparable.

    Trump doesn’t know how government works, or what he can or cannot do or should or should not do as President. Otherwise Comey’s rear end should have been flying out the door, the day he took office.

  14. backwardsevolution
    May 16, 2017 at 16:43

    It is being reported re Seth Rich that:

    “The investigator said 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments from January 2015 to May 2016 were sent from Rich to MacFadyen before May 21. These figures are the exact same ones as those published on WikiLeaks’ DNC email database.”

    Apparently the FBI have been sitting on Seth Rich’s laptop. IF Seth Rich did send emails to investigative reporter, Gavin MacFayden, and if Gavin MacFayden forwarded these emails to Wikileaks, then we should be able to see a trail of this. If true, and if Comey had anything to do with holding onto this laptop, then there is good reason for his firing.

    There is also apparently grainy video of two guys following Seth Rich shortly before he was murdered. Why haven’t these videos been made public? They usually are when the police are trying to find someone.

    All “ifs”.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 16, 2017 at 17:57

      Re: Comey, E J Hoover, and the FBI

      “J. Edgar Hoover: the Man Who Never Dies” by Clancy Sigal –

    • May 17, 2017 at 10:08

      Trump would do well to focus on Seth Rich’s murder investigation and get that laptop locked up…He needs to spotlight the investigation as it appears attempts are being made to stall and obstruct it…This would make the “Russian hacking” propaganda story go away…personally i think it was created by the Clinton organizations to deflect attention away from DNC, Clinton conspiring to tamper with the Democratic primary…The Harpy can be charged with tampering with a US election, and conspiracy to commit the same…

      Dont get me wrong…Donald is dirty as they come…you dont have to research very hard into Donalds business past to find a lot of illegal business operations with ALOT of very disreputable people…I think Donald can be fried for many REAL crimes…but this latest series of “TRump and Russia” propaganda is just a witch-hunt for “regime change” in the White House…it would serve their agenda to have Pence as compared to Trump…War is Coming…

  15. Bill
    May 16, 2017 at 15:28

    Obama should have fired the stupid hack Comey after he messed with Hillary’s election. But now that the tables are turned, people are complaining about Comey being fired. But where’s the lawbreaking anyway? Trump can dump him at any time.

  16. Sunset
    May 16, 2017 at 15:10

    Here’s an interesting article. Sherman loathed war, and tried his best to waken people of the South — transfixed by the media of their day — to the horrors of war. He burned Atlanta, not by desire but in an ultimate effort to awaken the sleepers.

  17. Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
    May 16, 2017 at 14:59

    I thought “scapegoating” is very much part of the very nature of the vast majority of people…..Ask yourself the following question, how many times have you seen people take responsibility for their own actions when things go wrong if they can sacrifice someone else?! In my own experience, it was very rare that someone did take responsibility……..managers always, with very rare exceptions, prepare to sacrifice one of the people who actually do the work when management decisions prove to be disastrous!! When things go wrong, the big guys never want to confront each other and instead “use” the lower ranks…..Very much like big powers, they always want to fight each other by using “proxies” to do the work for them…………Human beings are either BRAVE or COWARDS and the norm is to be COWARD………….To be brave and take responsibility for one’s decisions and actions is the exception and that is so very rare………….

    • Bill Bodden
      May 16, 2017 at 17:54

      Ask yourself the following question, how many times have you seen people take responsibility for their own actions when things go wrong if they can sacrifice someone else?

      When I was a child I overheard my grandfather say, “It takes a good man to admit he is wrong.” Since then I have learned two lessons from that dictum. One is that it is not only a sign of good character to admit to being wrong, it is also the wise and healthful thing to do. The other lesson is the obverse. Failure to admit to being wrong is not only a sign of a flawed character, but it is also an unwise and unhealthful thing to do.”

      Perhaps, that helps to explain why our political system is so sick. Politicians, military and other leaders have a hard time admitting to being wrong, even when it is obvious to millions of people.

      • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
        May 16, 2017 at 18:20

        I do agree with you but my point is much bigger. The reason the political system and military and other leaders are so sick is because THE CULTURE ITSELF IS SO SICK…….It is considered smart and clever if YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO SACRIFICE INNOCENT PEOPLE IN THE PROCESS……..Good men and good women are very rare these days………….

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 16, 2017 at 20:32

      Your comment Doctor reminded me of my dad. My dad ate after the employees ate. My dad stood up and took responsibility even when he could have wiggled out of it. In fact, as my father grew old I was worried that people would take advantage of this side of his nature. Yes I’m bias, but I’m not kidding my dad, was the original stand up guy. Oh, and when he shook your hand and gave you his word that was a word you could count on. I miss him, and right now the world could use a ton of people like my dad…but then again due to plausible deniability and disclaimers in regard to liability we have my generation. As the Donald would say, ‘so sad’.

      • Bill Bodden
        May 16, 2017 at 22:39

        It appears you’re a chip off the old block, Joe.

        • Joe Tedesky
          May 16, 2017 at 23:50

          If you knew my father Bill, you would realize how great of a compliment you just gave me….thanks Bill also this compliment coming from you is a great honor. I have been reading comments here and at the other site you and I sometimes post on for sometime now, and I’ve learned a great deal from your logic.

          About Trump, I am hearing talk on the cable networks of how the classified information that Trump shared with the Russians has put a Mossad agents life in danger, as this Israeli spy is doing undercover work among ISIS in Syria. Trump is also going to Israel on his Middle East trip….Donald better take his best bodyguards, because he wouldn’t want to meet the fate of Yitzhak Rabin. No matter if the cable networks may serve as a barometer of what Trump is up against, well impeachment will not be far off.

          This is a paramount moment for Reality TV brought to you by the Deep State. I cannot recall a presidency starting out with so much descent as Trump is experiencing. I don’t even like the guy, and yet I feel that all of this is not going to make this country any better for getting rid of him. People should stop and be careful of what they wish for. Although Trump is a bombastic egoist it would be nice to know what exactly will replace him. I know, I know, Mike Pence, but who or what will be behind a President Pence, is the question?

  18. Ol' Hippy
    May 16, 2017 at 14:31

    I sometimes watch the morning “news” when I wake up just to see what the day’s hysteria is going to be. Today it seems there is a security leak. Not mentioned was the Comey “incident”, at least after a few minutes on CBS and ABC. Whew, I’m so glad there’s something new to be concerned about!!!!?
    It really is getting ridiculous. And Rome continues to burn.

  19. May 16, 2017 at 12:58

    Interesting article at link below
    Are They Really Out to Get Trump?
    Sometimes paranoia is justified
    By Philip Giraldi • May 16, 2017

  20. May 16, 2017 at 12:12

    A lot of depredations were happening before Trump came to power.
    I believe what we are seeing could be called: “The Evil of Empires”

    We have seen and read the latest revelations of a “democratic” empire spying on its citizens and the whole world. The man who revealed the secret spying of the empire was Edward Snowden. His reward for speaking out and telling the truth about illegal acts is to be vilified in much of the corporate owned media and to be refused asylum for his service to humanity….
    [much more info at link below]

  21. Monte George Jr.
    May 16, 2017 at 12:00

    Much ado about nothing. Comey needed to be replaced, the sooner the better. The FBI’s lack of action wrt the Clinton Foundation, a string of 65 suspicious deaths (and counting) and the DC pedophile rings has left the country in a state of distrust of our justice system. If Trump replaces him with someone like Trey Gowdy, that will go a long way toward restoring our trust.

    The Russiagate scam has been ongoing of 9 months now, producing nothing but hysterical accusations, innuendos, and reams of political posturing and yellow journalism. Not an ounce of evidence of wrongdoing, all the while studiously ignoring the massive, in-your-face manipulation of our government by the state of Israel. How long should we wait for this farce to conclude before we replace Mr. Comey?

    The “dysfunction, ruthlessness, and ineptitude” you accuse Trump of would be better attributed to the atrocious, over the top and totally biased reporting by our hopelessly compromised press (propaganda) corps. And your comparison of Trump’s actions to the horrors of the Bush administration is unworthy of a journalist of your stature.

  22. May 16, 2017 at 11:57

    Drew Hunkins said exactly what I thought in response to Paul Pillars’ analogy, the Bush administration’s trumped-up tale about Saddam and WMDs had incalculable consequences for the world, for which we are paying dearly. And instead of any war crimes trial, Bush and Cheney are trotted out from time to time to air their opinions on world affairs and we get to hear about W’s new artistic career. As for Comey, his handling of the FBI is a domestic matter and his record should have been scrutinized by the Trump administration at the beginning, as it contained many sordid affairs, but the hysteria gripping the Beltway bubble acted to deflect attention from that.

  23. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 11:50

    I wonder if Rosenstein was OK with what Trump did before CNN and others cued him that he should be outraged? Does anyone have a timeline on that? Did Rosenstein speak out against Trump first, or was he tricked into it?

  24. Johnny
    May 16, 2017 at 11:42

    Trump has the right to fire Comey and it was the right thing to do. Rosenstein did the right thing.

  25. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 11:41

    If only we could get rid of Trump, everything would be fine again, and we could rest trustingly in the arms of the neocons and their promise to dominate the world by force of arms, nuclear if needed, to ensure our perpetual safety – kinda like a SuperMafia to keep all the bad guys away………..

    • May 16, 2017 at 11:47

      Good comment. Right on the mark. Mike K. The “establishment ” will “save us.”‘

  26. May 16, 2017 at 11:35

    I believe people everywhere are “Scapegoats” of the open criminality of the Establishment
    See link below

    • mike k
      May 16, 2017 at 11:44

      Right Stephen. I think we need a Goats-United front to overthrow the evil herders.

  27. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 11:35

    It would be a mistake to blame all our problems and what is wrong in America on Donald Trump. To do so would only divert us from working to fix the many things that need fixing. The witch hunters want us to focus only on one thing: The evil Donald doing the monster Putin’s bidding. Don’t think of anything else, watch this shiny object very intently….. If you watch CNN for any length of time you will be put in a trance and believe that only Trump and Putin exist in all the world……… just keep viewing……..,

    • Bill Bodden
      May 16, 2017 at 22:38

      If you watch CNN for any length of time you will be put in a trance and believe that only Trump and Putin exist in all the world…

      I just caught a few minutes of CNN’s town hall with Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, but Sanders turned me off when he was talking about how horrid the Russians are with their interfering in other nations as if the United States is so innocent and wouldn’t engage in such dastardly behavior. What a hypocrite he has become.

      • Realist
        May 17, 2017 at 02:06

        Sanders loved the approbation he received in the primary campaign. He doesn’t want to be ostracized from the establishment and lose what little influence he still has. That is why he didn’t go third party after the primaries, why he supported Hillary, and why he bashes Russia. It’s what all the “cool” kids are still doing. Absolutely anyone–could be the frickin’ Pope or the Dali Lama–who gives the slightest support to Putin or Russia are immediately treated like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl or the skunk at the garden party.

  28. Herman
    May 16, 2017 at 10:58

    So Trump firing of Comey is comparable to Bush misleading the country on WMD in Iraq? Please, the latest brouhaha about Trump sharing information about ISIS is just the latest. My god, what was he thinking. Now he claims as President of the United States he has the right to do that. Of course, he does. Trump’s early treatment beginning with the firing of Flynn because he spoke to the Russians and didn’t share his conversation with the Vice President was a colossal mistake. It was a colossal mistake not to stand up to the claims of the Post and Times that speaking to the Russians was a crime and that as President he and his appointees have every right to do so and should be applauded for it.

    Now Trump has stood up and said he had every right to share classified information with the Russians and that it was essential in the battle against Islamic extremists. We are not at war with Russia. Let’s hope he doesn’t cave and begins to attack the lynch mob for what it is with some well reasoned arguments about the hysteria and continues to talk to and work with the Russians on issues of common concern. That was the wish of those who voted for him. He has the opportunity to save himself if he takes advantage given to him by his opposition.

    • Skip Scott
      May 16, 2017 at 11:19

      Amen, Herman. This whole “evil Ruskies” thing is beyond the pale. I think one of the reasons people voted for him (although I didn’t) was that he said it would be a good thing to get along with the Russians and work together to defeat ISIS. The Intelligence agencies are using this “classified data” excuse to make all kinds of unfounded accusations. Meanwhile their entire history of evil remains hidden by the same system. Trump should declassify all their dirty secrets, indict the criminal bas**rds, and let the public know the truth about our intelligence agencies’ evil version of “Our National Security”. That’s how he could really “Make America Great Again.”

      • Realist
        May 17, 2017 at 01:55

        You are, of course, correct. The major dilemma occurs when one wants to vie with this corrupt media through the media–because otherwise the American people will not hear you. They simply will not give you an entree to dispute any of the misrepresentations they make. They make sure only their side of the story is told. Ever try to post a comment on the New York Times these days? Only Russia bashing is allowed. So, how is 21st century America different from the 20th century Soviet Union with respect to a free press?

        • Skip Scott
          May 17, 2017 at 07:57

          That was the real horrible consequence of losing the Fairness Doctrine under Reagan. I remember as a kid hearing “and now with an opposing point of view to last night’s editorial, here’s Joe Blow.” Nine times out of Ten, I agreed with Joe Blow. We don’t get to hear the public’s input anymore, just the MSM propaganda.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 16, 2017 at 12:49

      So Trump firing of Comey is comparable to Bush misleading the country on WMD in Iraq?

      So Trump is impeached, then what? Ayotollah Pence, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan, who would form the ruling triumvirate, all voted for Bush’s war on Iraq.

      The United States has been making unwise and criminal decisions for decades that culminated in a choice between cholera and the plague last year for president. There is no one in the ruling plutocracy and its political oligarchy with sufficient concern or ability to reverse the trend for decline and fall of the United States. At this point we might consider the old adage about the bigger they come the harder they fall..

      We might get a stay of execution if, during the elections of 2018, we elect a third party copying the aggressiveness of the Tea Party but with a more humane and civilized agenda so that it could deny the Republican and Democratic parties a majority on any vote. In this case, as they almost always have done in the past, the duopoly would gang up on this new party, but if the public saw and recognized this new party as something they wanted then it might survive any assault from the gangster parties.

      • Skip Scott
        May 16, 2017 at 13:07


        Unfortunately any third party would have to get past the MSM gatekeepers to have any chance to have themselves heard. Maybe if they don’t gain complete control of the internet, the younger generation may lead the way for us. I think this whole “fake news” hysteria is the MSM realizing they’re beginning to lose control of the narrative.

        • Bill Bodden
          May 16, 2017 at 14:31

          Unfortunately any third party would have to get past the MSM gatekeepers to have any chance to have themselves heard.

          Skip: That is one of the more obvious problems to getting a third party in a position to be effective, but before that the big problem is getting leaders who can get a following to get elected. Bernie Sanders could have been one, but when it came to crunch time he folded. Jill Stein had the qualities we need in a political party, but she didn’t have the appeal needed to reach the people. Perhaps, a younger generation can come along with the internet and social media to pick up the banner and turn the United States around from its current downward spiral. Trump isn’t the only one in such a predicament. It is much worse that the nation is at risk of utter chaos.

          • Joe Tedesky
            May 16, 2017 at 16:14

            Bill & Skip, to consider how hard it would be to get a third party candidate publicity look at how most of the authors we all read are ignored by the big media players. The only person on the radio who has consistently had such authors as Paul Craig Roberts, Webster Tarpley, and Robert Parry on their program, is a Sunday radio talk show host in Pittsburgh by the name of Chris Moore who broadcasts from KDKA 1020 between the hours of 5:00 – 9:00pm. Thom Hartmann of course, but I find it hard to locate where Hartmann is at times, and that is a shame since he is a decent talk show host who has a sensible outlook worth listening too. So, I like you guys yearn for the day a suitable candidate may pop up who is all of what they say they are, but until then we are all stuck in this well planned establishment mud hole they have left us in. Yay they who own the mic control the speaker output. We need a modern day Thomas Paine.

          • Skip Scott
            May 17, 2017 at 08:24

            Yeah, Bernie folding at crunch time was a big disappointment to a lot of us. He would have had his 15 percent along with Jill Stein to make the MSM debates if he had switched over to the Green Party after the corrupt DNC revelations. That was the time to go “all in.” Maybe Tulsi Gabbard can lead the charge next time around. She’d have to do it outside the Democratic Party though, since they remain bought and paid for by the oligarchs. And she’d need a real good security detail to keep her alive.

    • Skip Scott
      May 17, 2017 at 14:20

      Trump says we are fighting ISIS. Russia is fighting ISIS. Why wouldn’t Trump share classified info with the Russians in the fight against ISIS? Sharing the info with the Russians didn’t endanger the Mossad asset. Whoever leaked Trump’s sharing of that info with the Russians to the press (just as an attempt at a “gottcha” onTrump) is the one who endangered the asset. Somehow that little bit of logic is not to be found in the MSM.

  29. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 10:33

    If you read the paper on Comey that Rosenstein wrote, as I did, you could hardly come away from it without thinking, “This guy Comey needs to be fired.” Look it up and read it yourself. That Rosenstein did not actually say that in the paper is true, but the impact was undeniable.

  30. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 10:25

    This article seems a little over the top to me. I think Pillar is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Maybe he just wants to join in the let’s dump Trump party that is going full blast now. The democrats want to use this firing of a very questionable and politically compromised FBI head as an excuse to impeach the president. Impeachment should be considered a very critical and dangerous matter in a democracy. The Monica Lewinsky affair turned into an obvious Republican farce. Let’s not let the Democrats on a witch hunt take the same cavalier attitude about such a serious step.

    • Realist
      May 17, 2017 at 01:48

      Exactly. As far as I am concerned whatever Trump does is just a case of “monkey see, monkey do.” He hasn’t really invented any new outrages that most of the 44 presidents before him haven’t employed. Even most of the losers in their presidential elections have sought scapegoats big time: Hillary Clinton has formulated a list of scapegoats as long as your arm, starting with Comey, Putin, the Russian state, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and probably ending with Slick Willy himself.

  31. Drew Hunkins
    May 16, 2017 at 10:22

    Trump’s firing of Comey is not in the same moral or ethical ballpark as Bush jr’s admin dissembling about WMDs in Iraq. The former did not cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis nor did it cause the 10,000 casualties American soldiers and their families across the heartland have been suffering from.

    Bush jr’s deceptions about WMDs were an impeachable offense if ever one existed.

    In a sane and just world every single one of the charlatans, hucksters and bloodthirsty warmongers who sold us that war in 2002/early-03 would now be on death row. From the well paid mainstream scribes to the Zionists who infested the Pentagon’s “Office of Special Plans” to Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Colin Powell (for his shameful UN performance) and even Oprah Winfrey ran a show or two featuring Brookings warmongers, these are the players who caused the death and destruction and the proliferation of ISIS/alQeada. Also throw into death row the million dollar executives of the giant Defense [sic] contracting companies.

    • Bill Bodden
      May 16, 2017 at 12:26

      Bush jr’s deceptions about WMDs were an impeachable offense if ever one existed.

      People with the power to impeach only do so against people they oppose. Friends don’t impeach friends. An obvious conclusion must surely be that Congress is complicit and equally criminal.

      In a sane and just world every single one of the charlatans, hucksters and bloodthirsty warmongers who sold us that war in 2002/early-03 would now be on death row.

      If that is the case, and it is a very persuasive case, then the United States and its allies – not necessarily the world – are insane and not remotely connected to justice.

      • Drew Hunkins
        May 16, 2017 at 14:02

        If that is the case, and it is a very persuasive case, then the United States and its allies – not necessarily the world – are insane and not remotely connected to justice.

        Exactly Mr. Bodden. Though I’d make one small adjustment to your statement, I don’t think they’re insane, I think they’re sociopathic criminal thinkers, advancing a ruling class agenda no matter what the cost. So, come to think of it, perhaps this is ultimately insane to some degree.

        • Bill Bodden
          May 16, 2017 at 14:21

          I think they’re sociopathic criminal thinkers,..

          Agreed, Drew. Psychopathic probably also applies in many cases.

    • Ol' Hippy
      May 16, 2017 at 14:08

      It also didn’t cost the $trillions thw endless war did and still counting, by the way.

      • Drew Hunkins
        May 16, 2017 at 15:11

        Great point Ol’ Hippy.

      • Muggins
        May 18, 2017 at 10:41

        Not yet. Give ‘im time, give ‘im time.

  32. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 10:08

    For some reason my comment including a link to the Saker would not post. I think that Saker’s article on nuclear first strike, and the super fuze is important knowledge. He is an expert on this stuff. Go to it!

    • Skip Scott
      May 16, 2017 at 11:07

      Hi Mike-

      I just tried the same thing. It says it posts, but doesn’t show up. They must employ some kind of filter.
      I wonder what their reasoning for this censorship is?

      • Ol' Hippy
        May 16, 2017 at 14:06

        I just finished reading the Saker’s article before this. Good stuff, I just hope the psychos of the beltway don’t think they can win any sort of confrontation with Russia.

      • Realist
        May 17, 2017 at 01:41

        Try posting it from the Unz Review or from Information Clearing House wherein the same article appears.

        It would answer the question of whether they are blocking all pieces by the author called the Saker or from the website called the Vineyard of the Saker.

        I really don’t appreciate censoring or blackballing. Could it have to do with the current hassle over who gets paid and how for product on the internet? Both the Saker and Dmitri Orlov are pleading cash crunch. Orlov is now charging via Patreon.

  33. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 10:02

    This article by the Saker should be required reading for those interested in our nuclear future:

  34. mike k
    May 16, 2017 at 10:01

    My comment was not posted?

  35. Joe Tedesky
    May 16, 2017 at 09:23

    Google the name Paul Johnstone ( Diania’s Dad) and read about his background as a analysis for the Pentagon. Mr Johnstone claims that the people who report to the effectiveness of a nuclear first strike attack sell their analogies based more on bravado than on scientific fact. In other words he is saying, that much of the thinking centered around a first nuke attack isn’t so, as they say. Nice, so these half crazed full time liars are risking mankinds existence on bogus information.

    All of Washington DC lives in a bubble. The truth is a trade off for political expediency, and denied for manipulative gain. The ends always justify the means, in the world of the lying establish who controls our livelihoods. Come to think of it wasn’t our response to the 911 attacks supposed to be quick, and easy? Where are we now after sixteen years?

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 16, 2017 at 10:02

      Talk about what a president knows….

      Read the above.

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 16, 2017 at 11:02

      Here is news on Seth Rich….

      Apparently this investigation is still alive.

      • Skip Scott
        May 16, 2017 at 11:32

        Thanks for the links, Joe. I only check in with zerohedge on occasion, but they’ve always got good stuff. I wonder why they allow zerohedge, but block the saker? It’s very telling that the only MSM touching this is Fox News.

      • Bob Van Noy
        May 16, 2017 at 19:19

        Joe, Great catch thanks so much. In my mind this blatant crime is as outrageous as the killing of our President. We can’t let it disappear. My greatest hope is to see both Crimes solved and the people involved convicted!

        • Joe Tedesky
          May 16, 2017 at 20:23

          Bob & Skip to be fair you should google ‘latest on Seth Rich’, because there are conflicting reports going on with this. A Rod Wheeler who may have been, or may not have been, hired by the Rich family is the one saying that Seth’s murder is still under investigation. So we should becareful before we celebrate.

          I wish, and hope, that someday sooner than later, we find out what happened to poor Seth.

  36. MJD
    May 16, 2017 at 09:12

    Scapegoating and shifting the blame is one of the major ethical failings in our country. The end result is that the most vulnerable are punished for the wrongdoings of the powerful. If the country is to become a viable democracy in any form, a stop will need to be put to this absolute corruption.

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