Another day, another series of NY Times and WaPo stories based on leaks.

The NY Times reports that Trump told the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador that Comey was a “nut job” who had politicized the investigation, and that his firing relieved “great pressure”. The report was based on someone reading a memo about the meeting to the Times reporter. Here is the White House’s response, issued in Sean Spicer’s name:

“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”

The story is being taken as more evidence of possible obstruction of justice, though as the Spicer response indicates, the counter-argument is that it’s nothing new: Trump has been telling just about everyone that Comey was a nut job who Trump accused of grandstanding and showboating. While perhaps it was unseemly to make the comment to the Russians, it is not new evidence.

The WaPo story says there is a “senior White House advisor” who is “a significant person of interest” in the Russia investigation.

These two latest leaks don’t seem as bombshell-y as the breathless media is making them out to be. If you thought Trump was unfit for office before, you still think that. If you think he’s being undermined by leaks and media hype, you still think that.

The appointment of Robert Mueller earlier this week to serve as special counsel seems like ancient history in our 6-hour news cycles, but it is undoubtedly the biggest event of the week. Democrats are now fretting that the appointment of a special counsel, which they have demanded for months, may actually serve Trump’s interests because it lowers the likelihood of public hearings. After all, Congress wouldn’t want to do anything that might interfere with the special counsel’s investigation, and that investigation now may be less leaky than before.

I discussed the appointment of the special counsel on Thursday, May 18, 2017, on the Tony Katz radio show.

“He will have the authority to investigate and the authority to prosecute any crimes that he finds, and the scope of what he’s investigating under the order is fairly broad, it’s anything related to Russian interference in the campaign and any collusion, or any matters arising out of that. So it’s very broad, and very easily in the wrong hands could be a prosecutor in search of a crime, as opposed to a prosecutor prosecuting a crime.”

* * *

“Let’s be clear, the alleged collusion, while certainly nobody’s in favor of it, may not even be a crime. So let’s put that out of the way.

And that’s the perverse thing about this whole process, is that the allegations used to create this special counsel, or prosecutor, arise out of what’s a political matter. Certainly it would be extremely damaging politically to Trump and anyone involved if there were evidence of collusion, of which there is none as of now, but that would not necessarily be a crime. There’s no law that I’m aware of that prevents somebody in a campaign from talking to a foreigner or a foreign government. It may not be a good thing, may be a bad thing. But it’s not necessarily criminal.

So one of the amazing things, in my view, about this is that Democrats and the media, by spinning this narrative without evidence of alleged collusion, have taken what’s a political matter and now potentially turned it into a criminal investigation, or they have turned it into a criminal investigation….”

* * *

Q. Do you think Robert Mueller is the wrong hands [for the investigation]?

A. I don’t think so, I have no reason to believe that … but until you get there, you don’t know. If we see this turning into what I’ll call ‘process crimes,’ which is somebody wasn’t completely truthful, or was evasive, not necessarily perjury, but obstruction of justice …. If that’s where this ends up, then this would be another example of a special counsel, or special prosecutor, gone wrong.



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