This week’s firing of James Comey by Donald Trump is a move that has sent shockwaves across America. Many Americans had pinned their hopes on James Comey as the man who would launch Donald Trump impeachment hearings and bring the alleged corruption in the White House to its knees. But firing James Comey will not prevent a Donald Trump impeachment if a cause is found.
Multiple investigations, including the FBI investigation into Trump and Russia, are still ongoing and even picking up strength since the firing of James Comey.
The only thing that has been announced this week is that James Comey is no longer working for the FBI. There has been no statement issued by the FBI or the Department of Justice that the criminal investigation into the White House on alleged collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election has ceased.
The White House has hinted in a press briefing through Sarah Huckabee Sanders that it’s time to “move on” from the Trump-Russia investigation. The Department of Justice has not.
In fact, the signs from the Department of Justice are just the opposite. The Washington Post reported today that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee today that he would advise the committee of any possible White House interference with the current and ongoing Trump-Russia investigation. McCabe also said that thus far, there has been “no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
McCabe made a commitment to the Senate Intelligence Committee today, saying the FBI’s probe into Trump and Russia “would not be deterred.” In response to a question by Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the acting director of the FBI said the following.
“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.”
Closing the investigation would benefit the White House, as the Trump-Russia scandal has hung like a cloud over the White House since long before the election. James Comey said in testimony to Congress that the criminal investigation into Trump and Russia had been in effect since the summer of 2016.
Many believe it is this criminal investigation that will lead to a Donald Trump impeachment. It would be to the White House’s advantage for that investigation to end, and many speculate this may even be why James Comey was fired to begin with.
In a public statement, Donald Trump said that he was firing James Comey as a result of inaccurate statements he made over the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But in his letter terminating James Comey, the only thing Donald Trump mentioned was the Trump-Russia investigation.
“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.”
The acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, could not confirm today that Trump, in fact, has been told three separate times that the FBI is not investigating the president.
To date, however, there are four congressional committees, in addition to the FBI investigation, scrutinizing the allegations of collusion between Trump and Russia to influence the election. The chances that all of those will just shut down, and that America will “just move on” after the firing of one man, are slim to none.
The evidence of James Comey is not the only evidence the congressional committees are investigating. But even if it were, that evidence has not disappeared following Comey’s firing. The FBI is continuing their investigation and intends on keeping the Senate Intelligence informed.
If a single shred of evidence of Trump-Russia collusion comes under the microscope of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, grounds for a Donald Trump impeachment can be established.
As the bipartisan body that provides oversight to the Department of Justice and the FBI, the Senate Judiciary Committee could also recommend criminal charges against anyone should evidence arise in the Trump-Russia case that warranted it. All of these agencies and committees are investigating members close to Trump to determine if evidence of collusion between Team Trump and Russia occurred to influence the 2016 presidential election.
One member of Team Trump has been in hot water since he was fired by the Trump Administration after it came out that he engaged in contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. That is Michael Flynn, whose troubles did not stop with his firing and have only intensified.
The Associated Press is reporting that Flynn is now the subject of a subpoena issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee. In April, documents outlining Flynn’s financial dealings with Turkey were requested by the committee. Michael Flynn did not cooperate with that request, and thus those documents are now the subject of a subpoena.
The documents in question pertain to two payments that Flynn’s company, known as Flynn Intel Group, sent to Turkey. There were two payments totaling $80,000, each in the amount of $40,000. The Senate Committee investigating collusion between enemy states and the election want to know why Flynn sent money to Turkey.
There is a discrepancy in explanations of that money between Flynn and the recipient. Flynn stated in his disclosure forms to the Department of Justice that the funds were sent for consulting work. But the client who received the two payments said the funds were a refund, as they had commissioned Flynn to do some lobbying work in the United States that he did not perform.
The client says Flynn refunded the lobbying money. Flynn says the money was for consulting fees. It is a violation of Title 18 of the U.S. Code section 1001 to make false statements or entries or to “conceal, or cover up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact,” according to Cornell Law. Penalties for violations include fines, imprisonment up to five years, or both.
This information has now been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation into the Trump Russia allegations. Vox reports that the ranking member of the committee, Republican Senator Burr for North Carolina, said the following in regard to the evidence collection of the committee.
“Everything has been voluntary up to this point, and we’ve interviewed a lot of people, and I want to continue to do it in a voluntary fashion. But if in fact the production of things that we need are not provided, then we have a host of tools [of obtaining intelligence.]”
One of those tools is the subpoena process. CBS News reports that Republican Senator Collins of Maine of the Senate Intelligence Committee has also said that the evidence the committee has collected thus far in their investigation is “many binders thick” when she appeared on Face the Nation in March. She also indicated the subpoena power of the committee is one they will not think twice about using “if they have to.”
In the case of Michael Flynn, they have to, as he has declined to cooperate.
Senator Collins has also said that Donald Trump’s tax returns may be another matter that undergoes the subpoena power during the process of the Trump-Russia investigation in the Senate. Donald Trump has refused to provide tax returns during the election campaign and upon entering the White House. Many believe it’s because he has something to hide regarding Russia.
If he does, that would also lay the groundwork for a Donald Trump impeachment. Criminal charges would not be necessary to impeach Donald Trump if there is anything in Trump’s tax returns that violate his oath to defend the Constitution, and America, from enemies foreign and domestic.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is interested in learning more about Donald Trump’s financial affairs and has begun the process of formally requesting that information as well. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCEN, has been contacted for information related to Trump’s financial affairs in a money laundering investigation.
Sources say there are currently 11 staffers working with the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Trump-Russia investigation. Due to the amount of information that is being collected from the CIA and the NSA, as well as various agencies and individuals that are being subpoenaed, the number of staffers may not be enough to handle the Trump-Russia investigation adequately.
This has led to multiple members of Congress, and millions of members of the American public, to increase demands for an independent investigation and special prosecutor in the Trump-Russia investigation. House Minority Leader Democrat Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan about a bill currently facing Congress.
The bill was filed by Democrats Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. Eric Swalwell in December of 2016 and is called the Protecting Our Democracy Act. Its intent is to establish the National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 election. The bill is meeting resistance in Congress.
But the social movement known as the Resistance is escalating their calls for a special prosecutor in the Trump-Russia investigation since the Comey firing. Rep. Nancy Pelosi told Paul Ryan this week in a letter that if he did not allow a vote on the bill next week when Congress returns from recess, the Democrats would file a discharge petition to force the vote reports the Hill.
“Speaker [Paul] Ryan must call up this legislation immediately upon our return next week. If Republicans continue to work to hide the truth from the American people, it will be necessary for Democrats to file a discharge petition to force a vote on the legislation…The fireworks at the Department of Justice demand that we remove the investigation from the Trump-appointed Justice Department leadership.”
Some Republicans have joined the call for a special prosecutor. A discharge petition occurs when a bill is taken out of committee and put right to the floor for consideration by the House without receiving a report from the committee. It is “discharged” from the committee and given right to the House. A discharge petition must have 218 signatures in order for a bill to go right to the floor.
That would mean the Democrats would need approximately 20 Republicans to sign the discharge petition. The Hill reports that there are currently a handful of Republicans that have already publicly nodded towards the need of a special prosecutor. Those are Rep. Issa of California, Rep. Comstock of Virginia, Rep. Jones of North Carolina, Rep. Amash of Michigan, and Rep. Curbelo of Florida.
Q: What makes you sure that there is collusion?
SWALWELL: "It's the evidence I've reviewed on the classified side." pic.twitter.com/fLOenKQfhA
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 6, 2017
A discharge petition would put the remaining Republicans in an uncomfortable position, as it would expose them to a vote that would reveal political alliances. And no Republican wants to look like they are aligning with a president if their constituents are asking for a special prosecutor.
Nancy Pelosi also said in her letter to Paul Ryan, “If the president has nothing to hide, then he should welcome the creation of a commission providing an independent investigation to remove all doubt of a cover up.”
If Paul Ryan does not put the bill to the floor next week, Democrats will begin whipping votes on the Republican side for the discharge petition. In the meantime, multiple investigations continue with progress on the allegations that the Trump team colluded with Russia to interfere with the election.
If there is any evidence that the Trump team colluded with Russia, or that Donald Trump has violated his oath to defend the Constitution and protect America from enemies foreign and domestic, he will be in some trouble. If that happens, conversations of a Donald Trump impeachment will pick up more steam than they already have.
[Feature Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]