Friday, May 12, 2017

The Associated Press Goes Around the Bend on Comey



The following article appeared on powerlineblog.com on May 10th


Associated Press news stories on controversial topics are generally adapted from Democratic National Committee press releases, but when the AP really wants to cut loose it labels its stories “AP Analysis.” This one, by Julie Pace, is headlined: “AP Analysis: Trump thrusts US presidency into perilous area.” Not just Trump’s presidency, but “US presidency,” to reinforce the Democrats’ absurd claim that Trump’s firing of the inept James Comey somehow represents a constitutional crisis.

With his shocking dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, Donald Trump is propelling the presidency into rarely traversed territory.

Why was it so shocking? The Democrats have been demanding it for months.

His surprise announcement Tuesday flouts decades of presidential deference to the nation’s top law enforcement agency and its independence. It earns Trump the dubious distinction of being the first president since Richard Nixon to fire the official overseeing an investigation involving the commander in chief.

This is deeply dishonest. Note that the AP doesn’t say that Trump is the first president since Nixon to fire an FBI Director. Nixon didn’t fire an FBI Director. The last president to fire an FBI Director, on far weaker grounds than Trump’s, was Bill Clinton.

Why the talk about Nixon? The word went out today from the DNC that Trump’s firing of Comey was “Nixonian”–you see that claim everywhere in the Democratic Party media–and Julie Pace is following her party’s lead.

And note the AP’s weaselly claim that Comey was “overseeing an investigation involving the commander in chief.” Trump was not a target of Comey’s investigation, which “involved” the president only in the sense that it related to members of his campaign team and, in at least one case, his administration.

And it cements a clear pattern of a man willing to challenge — in dramatic fashion — the institutions created to hold the president accountable.

Another false, overheated assertion. Trump didn’t challenge any institutions, he fired an officer of the federal government who served at his pleasure. The AP needs to get a grip.

Pace goes on to quote seven politicians and scholars, every single one of whom criticizes Comey’s firing, often in hysterical terms. That isn’t balanced reporting, that is “analysis.”

This next paragraph is outrageous:

Trump attained his White House goal after a decades-long career in business during which he was accountable to few people other than himself. Thus, he has chafed at the constitutionally mandated constraints on the presidency. Within days of taking the oath of office, he suddenly fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates — a career Justice Department official — after she refused to defend the White House’s controversial travel and immigration ban.

Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, is a perfect representative of the corrupt swamp that the Department of Justice became under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. Yates viciously politicized the department, going after political opponents and other targets of convenience with reckless abandon. She was fired for insubordination because, as an Obama holdover, she defied a direct order from her superior. By doing so, she demanded to be fired. That wasn’t heroism, it was politically-inspired grandstanding. The idea that firing Sally Yates somehow shows that the president “chafes” at “constitutionally mandated constraints on the presidency” is either ignorant or malevolent. Most likely both.

Pace accuses Trump of hypocrisy, but never mentions the Democrats’ howls for Comey’s scalp that are collected by Lifezette.

At the time, Trump praised Comey for having “guts” and doing “the right thing,” statements that complicate his assertion that now, seven months later, Comey’s decisions warranted firing.

The rest of the AP’s “analysis” is all about Nixon. My guess is that few readers will get to the end. If they do, they will find nonsense like this:

“This is Nixonian,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

Jimmy Gurule, a former assistant attorney general who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, said Trump’s decision “threatens our democracy and undermines the integrity of the FBI investigation.” Gurule is now a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Nixon’s decision had a ripple effect throughout his administration, with the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigning rather than carry out the president’s orders. There was no such response from Trump’s White House aides and other top administration officials.

“We haven’t had a voice from within the Trump administration denounce this yet,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “I think at this moment the question is, will leading Republicans step out of the box and become profiles of courage?”

Any Republican can become a profile in courage by siding with Democrats and selling out a Republican president. I am trying to remember the last time a Democrat became a profile in courage by siding with Republicans.

The AP’s “analysis” is all wishful thinking. The Democrats would love to see a constitutional crisis, but all they are going to get is a new (and undoubtedly better) FBI Director. Meanwhile, to say that the Democrats’ Trump-bashing has reached a point of diminishing returns is an understatement.


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