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Gen. James Mattis is not the only mad dog in Washington

ANALYSIS/OPINION: One of the most alarming aspects of the present fevers is the utterance of total untruths by notables in high places. Do they not know what the truth is? Or do they not care about the truth. Do they believe their notoriety will overcome a totally erroneous statement? For instance, consider Gen. James Mattis’…

Gen. James Mattis is not the only mad dog in Washington

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

One of the most alarming aspects of the present fevers is the utterance of total untruths by notables in high places. Do they not know what the truth is? Or do they not care about the truth. Do they believe their notoriety will overcome a totally erroneous statement?

For instance, consider Gen. James Mattis’ statement in The Atlantic that is highly misleading. History is clear. Past presidents have used the military repeatedly in states with or without a governor’s invitation. To deny it is an example of what President Trump has called “fake news.” 

Has Gen. Mattis never heard of President George H.W. Bush in 1992 sending in troops to put down the Los Angeles riots? How about President Lyndon Johnson? Did Gen. Mattis ever hear of LBJ sending troops to Washington to the put down the riots there after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.? What about John F. Kennedy? Did Gen. Mattis never hear of JFK sending out troops to quell riots in Birmingham, Alabama, or at the University of Mississippi or when the bigot, George Wallace, blocked the schoolhouse door. And what about President Eisenhower. Did he not dispatch troops to Little Rock, Arkansas? Or was it someone else?

Where has Gen. Mattis been on all these occasions? Or how about when a president calls out his military to put down insurrection by veterans. I remember hearing of President Herbert Hoover calling upon Gen. Douglas MacArthur to put down the Bonus Marchers. It happened in 1932. Does Gen. Mattis or any of the other great minds filling the television screens and newsprints nowadays remember the Bonus Marchers? 

Donald Trump was almost 22 years old in 1968, when the last round of national rioting engulfed America. My guess is that young Donald was watching television news at some point when a truly inspiring moment was captured on the screen. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in Memphis, Tenneesee, on April 4, and cities were burning across America. I certainly remember the inspiring moment. Though the inspiration did not come from a Republican.

Bob Kennedy, who was running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency took time off from his campaign to fly to Washington to walk the smoldering streets and instill calm. I have a picture of him I believe at the corner of 14th and U Streets in Northwest. No one called it a “photo-op.” Yet, it probably served that purpose also. Eight weeks later Bob Kennedy too was shot dead.

Is it possible that on May 31, when President Trump saw the historic church across the street from Lafayette Park, St. John’s Episcopal, afire he thought of the example set by Bob Kennedy so many years ago? He decided to walk over and stand by the church to change the tone of the angry crowd.

I saw from my television set water bottles being launched from the remnants of the angry crowd. His act could not be seen by any fair-minded observer as anything but an act of peace. Could it? Once the crowd had been cleared the president came to the church. He carried a Bible. Who taunts with a Bible?

And yet these last few lines will seem laughable to the “peaceful demonstrators” if ever they take the time to read them. That is how bad it has gotten. We are living in dreadful times. Nothing I can think of can be done by Donald Trump to calm the angry mob.

Take a page from Bob Kennedy’s playbook, and it is called a “photo-op.” Walk across Lafayette Park to church and it is called aggressive behavior — even by the sainted bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. Even if the president called a summit with all the players involved, he could not get peace. All he can do is the unthinkable, step down, and then the Democrats would probably proceed with indictments. Who knows, they might be preparing indictments at this very hour. Nothing like this has ever occurred in our history.

Yet, based on the revelations of month’s Justice Department documents, it appears that the war against President Trump began even before his election. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein revealed enough in testimony last week to suggest that the intelligence community was out to get Mr. Trump before Hillary had even lost to him. Who were they working for? Was it Hillary herself? I am counting on Attorney General Bill Barr to supply the answers.

• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He also is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.

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Comey

James Comey refuses to discuss allegations Hilary Clinton conjured Trump-Russia scandal

Former FBI Director James B. Comey on Wednesday dodged questions about a 2016 CIA request that the bureau probe Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign over allegations it “stirred up” a scandal linking President Trump to Russia. On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released a letter alleging that the Clinton campaign sought to distract from…

James Comey refuses to discuss allegations Hilary Clinton conjured Trump-Russia scandal

Former FBI Director James B. Comey on Wednesday dodged questions about a 2016 CIA request that the bureau probe Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign over allegations it “stirred up” a scandal linking President Trump to Russia.

On Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released a letter alleging that the Clinton campaign sought to distract from Ms. Clinton’s email troubles by tying Mr. Trump to Russia and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

The CIA referral was made to Mr. Comey and then-FBI Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok.

The intelligence community did not initially take a position on the accuracy of the claims, raising the possibility it might be Russian disinformation. Still, they wanted the FBI to look deeper into the issue.

When pressed about the letter during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Comey declined to address it.

“I can’t answer that,” Mr. Comey said about the letter. “I’ve read Mr. Ratcliffe’s letter, which I, frankly, have trouble understanding.”

When pressed again, Mr. Comey doubled down on his refusal to address the Ratcliffe letter.

“I don’t understand Mr. Ratcliffe’s letter well enough to comment,” Mr. Comey continued. “It’s confusing and contains within it a statement that its unverified information. So I really don’t know what he’s doing.”

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James McConville, Army chief of staff, defends Pentagon brass

The Army’s top general on Tuesday defended senior military officials against accusations they are interested only in keeping defense contractors happy, following President Trump’s controversial Labor Day comments that top Pentagon brass probably don’t support him “because they want to do nothing but fight wars.” Speaking in an online interview hosted by the Defense One…

James McConville, Army chief of staff, defends Pentagon brass

The Army’s top general on Tuesday defended senior military officials against accusations they are interested only in keeping defense contractors happy, following President Trump’s controversial Labor Day comments that top Pentagon brass probably don’t support him “because they want to do nothing but fight wars.”

Speaking in an online interview hosted by the Defense One military website, Army Chief of Staff James McConville declined to address the specific comments made by his commander-in-chief.

“We live in a political environment, but we’re an apolitical organization,” Gen. McConville said. “It really must remain that way, especially with an election coming up.”

But, he noted that “many” generals and admirals leading the U.S. armed forces are also parents of military troops.

“Many of these leaders have sons and daughters that have gone to combat or maybe are in combat right now,” Gen. McConville said.

His comments amounted to the first formal response from the Defense Department to the president’s comments about powerful defense contractors “that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

“I can assure the American people, the senior leaders would only recommend sending our troops to combat when it’s required for national security and as a last resort,” Gen. McConville said. “We take it very, very seriously how we make our recommendations.”

The latest controversy follows an article in The Atlantic based on anonymous sources that said Mr. Trump ridiculed American personnel who died in battle as “losers” and “suckers.”

While other news organizations have confirmed the reporting through their own anonymous sources, several former or present White House figures have gone on the record to denounce the original story.

Gen. McConville cited the contributions Army personnel have made in a domestic setting, such as helping to fight fires in the western United States or taking lead roles in several skirmishes against the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. But any law enforcement assignment for the Army should only be handed down as an absolute last resort.

“The job of the American military is to protect the nation — not police the nation. That’s why we have police officers,” he said. “Only in the most extreme conditions should that be considered.”

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Comey

James Comey, former FBI director: No contact with Durham probe, ‘not worried at all’

Former FBI Director James B. Comey said Sunday he hasn’t been contacted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney tapped to review the 2016 probe into the Trump campaign, and he’s “not worried at all” as President Trump derides him as a dirty cop. Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Mr. Comey said he saw reports…

James Comey, former FBI director: No contact with Durham probe, ‘not worried at all’

Former FBI Director James B. Comey said Sunday he hasn’t been contacted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney tapped to review the 2016 probe into the Trump campaign, and he’s “not worried at all” as President Trump derides him as a dirty cop.

Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Mr. Comey said he saw reports that former CIA Director John O. Brennan was interviewed as part of the Durham probe.

But Mr. Comey hasn’t spoken to Mr. Durham and said he “can’t imagine” that he is a target in the investigation.

“Given that I know what happened during 2016, which was a bunch of people trying to do the right thing consistent with the law, I’m not worried at all about that investigation of the investigation,” Mr. Comey said. “Next, I’m sure, will be an investigation of the investigation of the investigation. They just want to have an investigation to talk about.”

The Durham team is poring over the 2016 probes as Mr. Trump fumes over the saga that loomed over his first term, including former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A Senate Intelligence Committee report published last week didn’t find evidence of collusion to influence the election but highlighted unusual contacts between a high-ranking campaign official and someone they describe as a Russian intelligence officer.

While there are no indications Mr. Brennan and Mr. Comey are targets of the Durham probe, former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty Wednesday to making false statements, admitting that in early 2017 he altered an email to say former Trump campaign aide Carter Page was not a source for the CIA when, in fact, he was.

Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey in May 2017 and frequently rails against him as crooked, saying he used FBI powers to spy on his campaign.

Speaking to CBS, Mr. Comey defended his agency for looking into Russia’s activities vis-a-vis the Trump campaign, citing the Senate report that detailed frequent communications between ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian businessman who the committee describes as “a Russian intelligence officer.”

“Let that sink in and then ask yourself, so there was nothing to investigate here, as [Attorney General] Bill Barr says, it was a hoax? The Republicans have exploded that nonsense,” Mr. Comey said, referring to GOP lawmakers who signed off on the intelligence report.

The committee said it was “unable to determine why” Manafort shared sensitive internal polling data and campaign strategy with Mr. Kilimnik, or if Mr. Kilimnik further shared that information.

Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, highlighted this portion of the report as the most explosive.

“Maybe one of the most stunning was the level of detail of the then-campaign manager Paul Manafort sharing very specific campaign information with a Russian agent,” Mr. Warner told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ll never know what the Russians did with that information, but think about that. A campaign manager, sharing with a known Russian agent during the middle of a campaign.”

Mr. Comey, meanwhile, accepted criticism for not taking a more aggressive stance in warning the Democratic National Committee that Russians gained access to their servers. Hacked emails were released by Wikileaks, upending Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“I think at the time, our folks thought that just telling an institution that the Russians are inside your house was enough,” Mr. Comey said. “But I think part of what may have led to a lack of urgency at the DNC and at the FBI is that nobody anticipated this wasn’t normal intelligence gathering by the Russians, this was an effort to weaponize. And if anybody had seen that, I think they would have yelled a little bit more loudly.”

He also said he regretted becoming involved in the 2016 race — but had no choice — after Mrs. Clinton tweeted a smirk at Mr. Comey’s recently tweeted photo of himself wearing an “Elect More Women” T-shirt.

Clinton supporters blamed her loss in large part on late revelations from the FBI about her use of a private email server for official business and its connection to a probe of ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner.

“We were stuck, and I think we made the right decisions choosing between terrible options,” Mr. Comey said. “And so I wasn’t trying, nor was anybody else in the FBI trying to elect or not elect anyone.”

• Jeff Mordock contributed to this report.

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