Tuesday's HOT MIC

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Statement from the White House tonight:

While the President has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the President has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The President has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey.

Deputy Director McCabe said in his testimony last week that the WH had not interfered with any investigation.


On the Fox News Special Report roundtable this evening, it took a Brit to put the recent turmoil surrounding the embattled president into perspective.

The latest "bombshell" to drop on Trump is, of course, the New York Times story alleging that he tried to pressure former FBI Director Comey into ending the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn.

Amid much hand-wringing and kvetching amongst the other panelists,  Steve Hilton, a former adviser to former Prime Minister David Cameron, said this:

I just think there's a pattern emerging here, which is President Trump does something or says something that is out of the realm of what a normal  professional politician would do. Sometimes it's serious, sometimes less so. But the reaction all the time is just an eruption of pompous bloviating  about a constitutional crisis and a threat to democracy and most of the time I think that's a misunderstanding.

The real story here is likely to be cock-up rather than conspiracy. It's someone who's not done this before, and encountering the complexities of office. And you'll say that's the point of having an outsider. The real question I think is, is it even possible for an outsider to really lead and govern or are they going to be so consumed by the complexities of  the job and actually attacked and destroyed by the professional political class that can't stand the fact that he's there in the first place? That we're going to be stuck with professional politicians forever?

Nailed it.

Hilton finally gets his turn to talk at 6:44.

The end of the Republic draws ever closer:

While he's already a historically unpopular leader of the free world, though, [Trump]'s still the favorite to win the presidency come the next presidential election cycle, according to the latest odds from Bovada.lv, an online gambling site. He's got 9/4 odds—meaning if you placed a $100 bet Monday and Trump won in 2020, you'd win $325—the best of any listed candidate. Vice President Mike Pence also has relatively good odds, at 9/1, seeming to suggest that the oddsmaker believes Trump might not finish his term and that his No. 2 could parlay the opportunity into another term. In fact, Bovada gives 2017 2/1 odds as the exit year for the president.

Outside of Trump, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has the best odds to win in 2020, at 15/2. Most of the top candidates come from the world of traditional politics, including familiar names such as Michelle Obama (who has said she won't run) at 15/1, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at 20/1 and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at 25/1.

The latest from Anonymice Central, the New York Times:

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

"According to the memo." So that's it, then, right?  Not so fast:

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

These people have no ethics, no professional standards, and no shame. The sooner the administration starts fighting back, the better.

Aww shucks: Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has withdrawn his name from consideration for FBI director. 

People who know Rep. Trey Gowdy say he isn’t seeking powerful roles within the government and would rather be at home with his family, but Republicans — and even some Democrats — keep pushing him to do more.

After the abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey last week, the South Carolina Republican's name made it onto the short list of possible replacements for Comey's post. Gowdy withdrew his name from consideration late Monday afternoon.

Gowdy said he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the FBI director needed to have "impeccable credentials" and also "unite the country as we strive for justice and truth." He also said that he shared with Sessions "my firm conviction that I would not be right person."

Fox News' Martha MacCallum will interview Gowdy about his decision to bow out of contention tonight on The Story with Martha MacCallum.

Roger, you know, I remember when the Washington Post and the New York Times said that the possible source of the information Trump is supposed to have revealed was so secret that they'd never reveal it, swear on their mothers' graves.

Wasn't it yesterday?

(Update: translated to English. I was in a hurry.)

My favorite comment today about the Trump/Russia thing: "Surely the way to protect methods and sources is to run to the WP and tell them everything, said nobody ever."

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer in the last hour issued a statement saying that Israel (the country that provided the U.S. with intelligence about ISIS and computers) has "full confidence in US intelligence."

Israel's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, referred to the report Tuesday that the source of the classified information which President Trump revealed to the Russian foreign minister was Israel.

"Israel has full confidence in our intelligence relationship with the US and we expect to deepen that relationship in the coming years under President Trump," said Dermer.

Meanwhile, even stalwart lib Geraldo Rivera moments ago on Fox News said that he finally has come to the conclusion that these intel leaks to the media are a bigger deal than the substance of the leaks.

Speaking of colluding with the Russians (see my post below), the NYT -- ever "helpful" to the Russians themselves -- is now reporting that Israel was the country that provided the U.S. with intelligence about ISIS and computers. Of course, anyone with an IQ in triple digits would have figured that out for themselves. It was the best guess by far. The Israelis, with their linguistic skills and ability to blend into Arab cultures, have long been the best source on the Middle East.  No doubt the Russians already knew that.  In fact, I'll wager the Russians figured that out weeks ago when the news came out that someone in Raqqa had figured out a more subtle way to put a bomb in a laptop and there was endless discussion across the media about those same laptops being forbidden on planes.  I already was thinking about what I was going to do on my endless flight back from Oslo this July.  This whole thing had the Mossad written all over it for weeks and this sudden revelation is the very essence of "fake news."

Okay, I admit it.  I have been colluding with the Russians.  This morning at seven AM Los Angeles time (heaven help me) I went to a studio in West L.A. to appear on RT TV's Cross Talk show.  With me via international hookup were an academic in  Syracuse, NY, and a journalist in Beirut.  I never got their names straight, but will post the show here when they send me the link. The subject du jour was "the liberal media and Trump."  As you might guess, the academic favored the media and the guy in Beirut (he referenced his recent appearance on Iran TV) found Trump's foreign policy disappointing.  You can make your judgment about me when I post it.  Considering what's going on these days, it was -- shall we say -- a surreal experience.  RT -- Russia Today -- was founded in 2005 as the new propaganda arm of Russia via the Novosti Press Agency.