drivel myth

Trump’s firing of Comey
Patrick Martin, WSWS, May 11 2017

Pres Trump’s firing of Comey marks a new stage in the protracted crisis of the Pindo political system. Comey’s dismissal on Tuesday has been followed by escalating political warfare centered on conflicts within the ruling class over foreign policy, particularly in relation to Russia. Leading Demagogs and some Rethugs are stepping up calls for an independent commission or special prosecutor to investigate links between Russia and the Trump campaign. The Senate Intelligence Committee announced late yesterday that it has issued a subpoena to Michael Flynn demanding information relating to communications with Russian officials. Trump’s decision to fire Comey has all the earmarks of an administration in political disarray, desperate to strengthen its control over the state apparatus. Media reports indicate that before he was fired, Comey asked the DoJ for more resources to pursue the investigation into supposed Russian hacking of the election (no evidence of this! – RB).

The NYT, which has spearheaded the anti-Russia campaign, drew parallels to the “Saturday Night Massacre” in Oct 1973, when, during the Watergate crisis, Nixon forced the resignation of his attorney general and deputy attorney general, followed by the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. The NYT proclaimed that an investigation was needed to determine “whether the presidency was effectively stolen by a hostile foreign power,” that is, Russia. If there is an analogy between Watergate and the present conflict, it is that the latter, as with the former, expresses an enormous crisis of class rule. Unlike Watergate, however, there is no democratic principle asserted, however limited, by either side in the current conflict. There is no doubt that the Trump administration represents something new in Pindosi politics: the rise of a fascistic gangster element to the heights of executive power. Trump personifies the open and naked rule of the oligarchy. Trump did not emerge from nowhere, however. He is the product of a protracted process of political decay, which reached a turning point in the stolen election of 2000, when the Demagog Party could not rouse itself to oppose the hijacking of the presidency by a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court and allowed Bush 43 to take office despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore.

The eight years of the Bush administration ended in multiple catastrophes: military (Iraq), social (Hurricane Katrina), and economic (the 2008 Wall Street crash). Obama was brought to power to give the ruling elite a facelift after eight years of Bush, who left office the most hated president since Nixon himself. The aim was to contain and channel social discontent in the wake of the economic and financial collapse of 2008. But the content of Obama’s policies was to expand Pindo military aggression abroad and intensify the assault on working-class living standards and democratic rights at home. The continued decline in social conditions for working people, in sharp contrast to the bonanza on Wall Street, set the stage for Trump to capitalize on mass disappointment and disillusionment. For the ruling class, the break with constitutional forms of rule embodied in the Trump administration is fraught with danger. Giving voice to the concerns within the ruling elite, former Bush aide Peter Wehner wrote in the NYT:

(Trump was) a man of illiberal tendencies who was unlikely to be contained by norms and customs. He would not use power benevolently but unwisely, recklessly, and in ways that would undermine our democratic institutions and faith in our government. editor/CEO David Rothkopf, a former managing director of Kissinger Associates and one-time official in the Clinton administration, warned:

We have all the makings of a banana republic…. The world will see Pindostan as a failing state, one that is turning its back on the core ideas on which it was founded, that no individual is above the law.

It is a fact of immense political significance, however, that the Demagog Party has from the beginning opposed Trump on the most reactionary basis, focused on demands for a more aggressive foreign policy in Syria and against Russia. In demonizing the Putin regime in Moscow, the Demagogs (joined by the most hardline Rethug militarists such as McCain) are laying the basis for a full-scale war with Russia that would mean the nuclear annihilation of the planet. There is an unbridgeable social gulf between the mass opposition to Trump that exists among working people and youth, which has erupted in major protests during the first four months of the Trump administration, and the anti-Trump campaign being waged by the Demagog Party and the military-intelligence apparatus. Millions have marched against Trump’s witchhunt of immigrants, his attempts to suppress climate science, his rollback of environmental regulations, his attacks on democratic rights. They did not march to defend the FBI or demand war with Russia. But that is the ground on which the Demagog Party has chosen to take its stand, allying itself with the most powerful sections of the military-intelligence establishment. It fears a movement from below just as much as Trump. Its focus is to preempt the opposition from below and divert it into reactionary channels. What happens next in the conflict within the ruling class is uncertain. But history shows that a crisis of class rule is a harbinger of social revolution. For the working class to defend its interests, it must refuse to line up behind either faction of the political establishment. The Demagogs and Rethugs are the parties of the billionaires. The working class must oppose the Trump administration on the basis of its complete political independence from the two-party system and its own revolutionary socialist program directed against the profit system as a whole.

Rethugs reject Demagog rule
Barry Grey, WSWS, May 11 2017

The political crisis gripping Washington sharpened Wednesday in the aftermath of Pres Trump’s surprise firing of Comey. Trump triggered a political firestorm Tuesday when he abruptly dismissed Comey, who was heading up the most active investigation into alleged Russian government hacking of the 2016 Pindo election and accusations of collusion between the Trump election campaign and the Kremlin. Demagogs in the Senate and other party boxtops lined up as a bloc on Wednesday to demand the appointment of a special prosecutor or the establishment of an independent commission to take the investigation out of the hands of Trump appointees, a demand that was firmly rejected by Rethug congressional leaders. Neither the Demagog Party nor the intelligence agencies have produced any substantive evidence to support their claims that Moscow hacked the emails of the DNC + Podesta in order to tip the election in Trump’s favor, but this is treated as undisputed fact by the bulk of the corporate media and used to agitate for a policy that leads inexorably to war with the world’s second-largest nuclear power. The Demagogs’ response to Comey’s firing has once again made clear that their opposition to Trump has nothing in common with the mass popular opposition to his assault on health care, education, environmental regulations, the rights of immigrants and democratic rights in general. It is instead focused on imperialist foreign policy and allied with powerful factions within the intelligence and military establishment that consider Trump insufficiently aggressive in the confrontation with Russia. To the extent that the Demagogs criticize Trump’s authoritarian methods, it is out of fear that they will further discredit the entire political system and spark an uncontrollable movement of the working class.

Trump’s official rationale for the dismissal of Comey has no credibility. The letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released Tuesday cites Comey’s violation of DoJ protocol in holding a press conference last July to announce his decision not to criminally prosecute Clinton for her use of a private email server during her tenure as sec state, while unfairly criticizing her “extreme carelessness” in handling classified material. It also cites Comey’s extraordinary letter to Congress 11 days before Election Day announcing the reopening of the email investigation, a move that Clinton claims cost her the election. The problem is that Trump never raised Comey’s decision to circumvent the DoJ’s chain of command. He then congratulated the FBI director when he announced the reopening of the email probe in the run-up to the election. Nor did the official narrative explain why Comey was being fired now for things he did months ago. Late Wednesday night, the WaPo reported:

(Rosenstein threatened to resign) after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover in the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation.

A series of developments over the past week make clear that Trump fired Comey because he was not only resisting White House pressure to end the Russia investigation, but expanding the probe. Press reports reveal that in recent days federal prosecutors working under Comey have issued grand jury subpoenas for records of associates of Michael Flynn. It has also been reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation of the Russian hacking charges, sent a request to the Treasury for financial records of Flynn associates. Finally, Congress critturs report that Comey told them he sent a request to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein last week for more money to conduct the FBI investigation. Comey was scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Trump was already enraged over his Mar 20 congressional testimony, in which Comey announced that the FBI was conducting an investigation into the Russian hacking allegations, including charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Trump was also reportedly incensed over Comey’s failure to back up his claim that Obama had tapped the telephones at his Trump Tower campaign headquarters. On Wednesday morning, Schumer took the unusual step of calling on all Demagog senators to be present for the opening of the session. McConnell opened the session and flatly ruled out the appointment of a special prosecutor or other form of independent investigation. Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Schumer in response asked:

Were those investigations getting too close to home for the president?

Schumer called for separate closed and, if necessary, classified briefings of all senators by Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to answer questions on the Comey firing, as well as an all-senator session to question Comey. He demanded that a special prosecutor be appointed, not by a Trump appointee in the DoJ, but rather by a high-ranking career department official. The Demagogs then froze all committee hearings, bringing the Senate virtually to a halt for the day. DNC chair Tom Perez spoke before several hundred people at a rally outside the White House called by that featured Russian flags and signs reading “Free Comey!” He called the firing of Comey “worse than the Saturday Night Massacre,” in reference to the Nixon Watergate scandal, and said the Senate should block confirmation of any replacement until the administration agreed to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. The supposed representatives of the Demagog Party “left,” Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, rushed to solidify themselves with the anti-Russia witch hunt. Sanders issued a statement declaring:

We need an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Warren gave an interview to CNN in which she attacked Trump for his ties to the Russian “enemy” and tacked on the completely unsubstantiated charge that the Russian government was behind the pre-election hack of the campaign of Emmanuel Macron in France and was preparing similar efforts to manipulate the upcoming elections in Britain and Germany. For the most part, the media adopted similar positions, a notable exception being the WSJ, which defended the firing of Comey. The NYT posted an editorial Tuesday night under the headline “Trump’s Firing of Comey Is All About the Russia Inquiry.” The NYT wrote:

Mr Comey was fired because he was leading an active investigation that could bring down a president.

The WaPo was even more strident, concluding its editorial with an ominous call for an independent commission to “not merely … determine if anyone should be charged with a crime, but to develop a complete picture of Russian capabilities and intentions, as well as recommendations for mounting a defense of Pindosi democracy.” There were some significant Rethug defections from the position of full support for Trump taken by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Richard Burr, chair of the Intelligence Committee, and other Thug senators said they were “troubled” by the timing of the Comey firing. But only Lindsey Graham, who backed the firing, joined with John McCain, who denounced it, in calling for a special congressional committee to investigate alleged ties between Trump and Moscow. At a White House press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that the firing of Comey had anything to do with the Russia investigation. In reply to questions about its timing, she said that Trump had been considering firing Comey ever since his election, an assertion that flatly contradicts numerous statements by Trump and his spoxes expressing complete confidence in the FBI director. A “big catalyst” for the final decision, she said, was Comey’s May 3 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he defended his decision last July to call his own press conference on the Clinton email investigation without even informing the attorney general or other DoJ boxtops. Calling this circumvention of normal channels an “atrocity,” she declared:

Director Comey made a pretty startling revelation that he had essentially taken a stick of dynamite and thrown it into the DoJ by going around the chain of command.

This was perhaps her only statement that had a ring of truth. It is entirely plausible that Trump was alarmed by Comey’s testimony, interpreting it as a signal that he would not bow to pressure from the White House to rein in his investigation, prompting Trump to pull the trigger and fire him.

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