James Comey, President Obama’s reported pick to head the FBI, is a Republican. But he’s most known for being a vocal dissenter working as the deputy attorney general during the Bush administration. In one dramatic incident when President George W. Bush was seeking re-approval of the wiretapping program, Comey stonewalled the administration at the hospital bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft. “I was angry,” Comey testified about the incident. “I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man who did not have the powers of the attorney general.”
But that was not the only time he spoke out against the executive.
In 2005, the Justice Department was compiling a legal memo on “enhanced interrogation” (which some would call torture). And Comey wasn’t happy with it — at all. In e-mails with his then-Chief of Staff Chuck Rosenberg, he voiced strongly worded dissent that the administration would come to regret its push to allow these techniques to continue.
The AG [Attorney General] explained that he was under great pressure from the Vice President [Dick Cheney] to complete both memos, and that the President had even raised it last week …
Yesterday morning, I got the most recent draft of the second opinion and read it. My concerns were not allayed, only heightened. Patrick [a Justice Department lawyer] felt just as strongly that this was wrong….
I told [Alberto Gonzales’s chief of staff] that the people who were applying pressure now would not be there when the ___ hit the fan. Rather, they would simply say they had only asked for an opinion. It would be Alberto Gonzales in the bullseye. I told him that my job was to protect the Departmwnt [sic] and the AG and that I could not agree to this because it was wrong. I told him it could be made right in a week, which was a blink of an eye, and that nobody would understand at a hearing three years from now why we didn’t take that week….
… It leaves me feeling sad for the Department and the AG. I don’t know what more is to be done, given that I have already submitted my resignation. I just hope that when all of this comes out, this institution doesn’t take the hit, but rather taken by those individuals who occupied positions at the OLC [The Office of Legal Counsel] and OAG and were too weak to stand up for the principles that undrgird [sic] the rest of this great institution….
People may think it strange to hear me say I miss John Ashcroft, but as intimidated as he could be by the WH, when it came to crunch-time, he stood up, even from an intensive care hospital bed. That backbone is gone.
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"Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday the Justice Department will revamp its policy for issuing guidance documents. Speaking at the Federalist Society’s annual conference in Washington Friday, Sessions said the Justice Department will no longer issue guidance that 'purports to impose new obligations on any party outside the executive branch.' He said DOJ will review and repeal any documents that could violate this policy." Sessions said: “Too often, rather than going through the long, slow, regulatory process provided in statute, agencies make new rules through guidance documents—by simply sending a letter. This cuts off the public from the regulatory process by skipping the required public hearings and comment periods—and it is simply not what these documents are for. Guidance documents should be used to explain existing law—not to change it.”
"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."
"The British publicist who helped set up the fateful meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016 is ready to meet with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's office, according to several people familiar with the matter. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller's office through his lawyer, said a source close to Goldstone."
"Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone. ... Kislyak made the remarks in a sprawling interview with Russia-1, a popular state-owned Russian television channel."