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The Russian Connection: This Is Not Going Well, Bigly

It’s hard to know where to start with Trump’s latest stunt to distract from the Russian connection of his campaign. The one thing of which we are certain is that Trump is an inveterate liar and he can’t keep his lies straight. In his interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, he repeated each of his lies twice, in succession, as if he knew he wasn’t believed. He insisted multiple times that he is not under investigation and the former FBI Director James Comey had told him that at a dinner, he claims that Comey had requested, and in two subsequent phone calls that he, Trump, had initiated. Whether or not that tale is true, that is the current story and Trump is sticking to it, for now.

The problem with Trumps’s claim is that Comey, under oath in a Senate committee hearing, was asked it Trump, personally, was under investigation, even though he had confirmed the investigation of the campaign. Comey plainly stated that he could not answer that, abiding by FBI and DOJ rules to not comment on whether there is, or is not, an investigation. Too bad Comey didn’t play by the rules last year.

Trump’s story about the firing has changed from yesterday. In his written statement and statements from his spokesperson Sarah Sanders, Trump stated that he fired Coney based on recommendations from Deputy General Rob Rosenstein. However, Rosenstein never explicitly recommended Comey be fired in his letter to the president. The Washington Post reported that Rosenstein was furious that the blame for Comey’s firing was being laid on him and that his had met with White house counsel Don McGahn to set the record straight, even threatening to resign. Today, Trump told Holt that he had already made the decision before he met with Rosenstein and AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. In other words, Trump was looking for an excuse to fire Comey in hopes of derailing the investigation into his campaign shenanigans. That has backfired, bigly.

Acting Director Andrew McCabe appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee, testifying in Comey’s stead.

Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe vowed Thursday that he would tell the Senate Intelligence Committee if the White House tried to interfere with the bureau’s probe of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election — though he asserted that there had “been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

McCabe made the statements at a public hearing with top U.S. intelligence officials before the Senate Intelligence Committee — a hearing that has taken on new significance since Trump suddenly removed James B. Comey from the FBI’s top post. He also said he would not provide updates to President Trump or anyone else in the White House about the status of the probe, nor had anyone yet asked. [..]

McCabe went on to make several assertions that might irk Trump. He forcefully defended his former boss — who Trump had said “was not doing a good job” — declaring that working with Comey was “the greatest privilege and honor of my professional life.” He said his view was widely shared in the agency.

“The vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey,” McCabe said.

McCabe also rebutted White House officials’ attempts to minimize the Russia probe — declaring it a “highly significant investigation” that had not and would not be deterred.

“Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” he said in response to a question from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

McCabe declined to comment on Trump’s assertion that Comey, while FBI director, had told him three times that he was not under investigation. [..]

The bureau’s probe, the only one that could produce criminal charges, is separate from the committee’s, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle feared that it might be upended now that Comey is gone. McCabe said he did not believe that would happen, and that the bureau was the right agency to continue the investigation.

On Tuesday, in a letter to Department of Justice Inspector General, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) requested that Inspector General Michael Horowitz review Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

No this is not going well for trump, bigly