Trump Sets Obstruction Of Justice Terms: It’s His Credibility Against Comey’s

WASHINGTON ? With a possible obstruction-of-justice probe on the line that could determine the future of his presidency, Donald Trump Friday set the terms: It will be his word against that of the FBI director he fired.

It?s a match-up Trump may come to regret.

James Comey is a 30-year career law enforcement officer and prosecutor with a reputation as straight shooter. Trump has been known for decades for unhesitatingly dispensing falsehoods ? a habit that has not diminished with his taking of the Oval Office.

?It?s difficult to look at Comey and besmirch his reputation,? said Rick Tyler, a Republican consultant who worked for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2016 GOP primaries. ?I don?t think Trump would recognize the truth if he stumbled across it.?

Comey on Thursday testified under oath that Trump had asked him for his personal loyalty and pressured him into dropping an investigation into Trump?s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his undisclosed discussions with Russian officials.

Comey had already been conducting an investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence agencies, which the U.S. intelligence community concluded worked to help Trump win the presidency.

Over the course of two-and-a-half hours before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey matter-of-factly called the president a liar. Asked why he took such detailed notes about his meetings with Trump, when he hadn?t done so after meetings with former presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama, Comey answered that it was ?the nature of the person.?

?I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document,? Comey testified.

On Friday, during a warm afternoon in the White House Rose Garden, Trump followed up on a earlier statement on Twitter and claimed it was Comey who was lying.

?I didn?t say that,? Trump said about asking Comey to drop the Flynn probe at a private White House meeting ? as visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stood a few feet away at their joint news conference.

?I hardly know the man. I?m not going to say, ?I want you to pledge allegiance,?? Trump said about asking Comey for his loyalty. ?Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean ? think of it, I hardly know the man. It doesn?t make sense. No, I didn?t say that and I didn?t say the other.?

Trump went on to say that he would provide those answers under oath: ?One hundred percent.?

Whether he ever gives a full statement to special counsel Robert Mueller is unclear. Trump frequently promises things but then reneges ? he promised, for example, to release his tax returns if he ran for president, which he has subsequently refused to do. 

In any event, the veracity of any such statements is also unclear. Trump has been known for decades for his willingness to say false things to advance his interests, including in legal depositions taken under oath. In the 1990s, he was even known for calling reporters and pretending to be non-existent Trump Organization subordinates to plant favorable stories about himself.

He called People Magazine once posing as ?John Barron? to claim that his employer ? that is, Trump himself ? was dating Italian model Carla Bruni. (Bruni denied she?d had anything to do with Trump and called him a ?lunatic.?)

His readiness to deliver falsehoods to his audiences and journalists frustrated his primary campaign rivals, who saw GOP voters seem to accept Trump at his word, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

One of Trump?s last opponents to drop out was Ted Cruz, who on the morning of the pivotal Indiana primary let loose a three-minute tirade about Trump?s lack of honesty.

?This man is a pathological liar. He doesn?t know the difference between truth and lies,? Cruz told reporters. ?He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And he had a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook. His response is to accuse everybody else of lying?. I say pathological because I actually think Donald?if you hooked him up to a lie-detector pass, he could say one thing in the morning, one thing at noon, and one thing in the evening, all contradictory, and he?d pass the lie-detector test each time. Whatever lie he?s telling, at that minute he believes it, but the man is utterly amoral.?

Trump won the Indiana primary, the GOP nomination and then, against improbable odds, the presidency with the assistance of Russian intelligence agencies working to sabotage his Democratic rival, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

The false statements, though, have continued, right from his first full day on the job when he told CIA employees that some 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, when the actual number had been a fraction of that.

The fact-checking site PolitiFact showed Trump with the highest rate of false statements of any candidate in the 2016 campaign. As of Friday, of the 410 Trump statements PolitiFact has analyzed since he entered the race in 2015 through this week, a full 69 percent are rated ?mostly false,? ?false,? or ?pants on fire.?

Trump?s long and troubled history with the truth may overwhelm whatever advantage the imprimatur of the White House might otherwise afford. Polling shows that a majority of Americans find Trump dishonest ? an impression that his staff is unlikely to be able to counter.

Thursday, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked about Comey?s testimony calling Trump a liar, responded: ?I can definitively say the president is not a liar. I think it is frankly insulting that question would be asked.?

That kind of answer, said Tyler, was not helpful, given Trump?s long and storied record of untruths through the years. All she had to do was answer that she wasn?t going to dignify that sort of question and to move on, rather than defend Trump so combatively and damage her own credibility.

?It?s the most fundamental mistake you can make in communications,? Tyler said. ?And she went and did it.?

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Meryl Streep Dressed Like Diane Keaton For Diane Keaton’s AFI Gala

Just when we thought we couldn?t love Meryl Streep any more, she goes and dresses like Diane Keaton ? and now we don?t know who we love more, Meryl or Diane. Let?s just call it a draw. 

Streep honored her friend in the best way possible on Thursday night, by copying Keaton?s iconic style to celebrate the American Film Institute?s 45th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to the actress at the Dolby Theatre Hollywood.

Dressed in her signature black and white, Keaton was a delight as she posed next to Streep, also in black and white. Keaton rocked a hat and a wide belt over a black skirt and white coat, while Streep wore her own headgear and a black suit featuring an eclectic striped necktie. Both ladies wore glasses and huge smiles, of course. 

?Diane Keaton, arguably one of the most covered-up persons in the history of clothes, is also a transparent woman,? Streep told the crowd, according to The Hollywood Reporter, ?even though she is famously the only member of the original cast of ?Hair? on Broadway who would not take off her clothes at the end of the show.?

The gals ? who were joined by Woody Allen, Reese Witherspoon, Al Pacino, Emma Stone, Morgan Freeman, Sarah Silverman, Rachel McAdams, Steve Martin and Martin Short at the special event ? have been pals for years, with Keaton even giving her own speech at Streep?s AFI tribute in 2004. 

?By putting life before art, Meryl Streep has made the choice of a trailblazing pioneer, and in the process became my generation?s genius,? Keaton told the crowd of the Oscar-winning actress. 

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. And man, nothing beats this: 

The Diane Keaton AFI Tribute will air on TNT June 15 and then on Turner Classic Movies July 31. 

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Scissor Sisters And MNDR Release Tribute Song For Pulse Massacre Victims

What does it mean to ?SWERLK??

For Babydaddy of Scissor Sisters and musician, singer and producer MNDR, it?s a combination of five of the fiercest words being used today: twerk, twirl, werk, swerve and swirl.

But it?s also so much more than that.

?It?s not only a dance move or a song,? MNDR told HuffPost. ?It?s a way of life and a philosophy!?

?SWERLK? is a new collaboration released today via GLAAD and HuffPost by the two music powerhouses, with the intention of bringing people together and honoring the 49 lives lost one year ago on June 12 during the Pulse Nightclub Massacre.

?MNDR and I were talking about how we wouldn?t exist without the culture around the clubs and the bars and the kind of escapes they provided and complete support system for what we were both doing when we started our projects,? Babydaddy told HuffPost. ?So it was this sort of, ?we?re not just supportive but also in debt to this culture.? 

This guiding mentality is at the heart of ?SWERLK,? with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the Contigo Fund ? a grassroots organization born out of the Pulse Massacre and dedicated to supporting and empowering the LGBTQ and Latinx communities in the Central Florida area.

?I think this is something that MNDR and I both discussed ? the way to honor what happened and the way to deal with it,? Babydaddy added. ?While being somber was a completely valid reaction to what happened, I think the most important way for us to kind of fight back and keep the spirit alive was to actually dig deeper into the spirt of what that whole scene, that community is. So, for us, that idea [consisted] of making something that hopefully people want to go out and play in the clubs and have fun with experience.?

?The spirit of being in something together and escapism and art and connecting with people ? I think that?s a big part of the song as well,? MNDR said.

Listen to ?SWERLK? above and head here to learn more about the Contigo Fund.

GLAAD will premiere ?SWERLK? videos from the Scissor Sisters and MNDR on the GLAAD Facebook page today and next week.

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Comey Offered Republicans Only The Coldest Of Comfort

WASHINGTON ? Republicans went hunting for a silver lining Thursday after FBI Director James Comey testified under oath that his firing was allegedly an attempt to alter the Russia investigation ? Comey?s testimony only showed President Donald Trump had hoped to obstruct the probe, not that he did it.

Comey explained repeatedly in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he believed Trump gave him the heave ho to try and influence the FBI?s investigation into the Russian campaign to sway the U.S. election, and especially any probe into former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

?It?s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,? Comey told the panel. ?I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a very big deal.?

According to Comey, Trump had pressed him specifically to drop the probe into Flynn, who was forced to resign after he apparently misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his business dealings with Russians.

While some Democrats started wondering if the overall circumstances amounted to a potential obstruction of justice case ? Comey said that was a matter for Special Counsel Bob Mueller to decide ? Republicans decided to parse Trump?s specific words.

They seemed especially relieved that the president, in a one-on-one Oval Office discussion with Comey, only said ?I hope? Comey drops the Flynn investigation.

?He did not direct you to let it go; He did not order you to let it go,? said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who expressed pleasure that Comey?s written testimony was careful to put quote marks around the request.

?Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said, or thought, they hoped for an outcome?? Risch continued.

Comey agreed Trump didn?t come out and say ?obstruct justice,? but he did take pains to draw the big picture, stressing repeatedly that as an investigator every detail of their conversation was important ? including Trump asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other advisers to leave the room.

?I mean, this is the president of the United States, with me alone, saying, ?I hope? this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do,? Comey said.

Like Risch, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said if Trump truly wanted to interfere in the investigation, his comments to Comey appeared to be ?a pretty light touch.?

What?s the difference, Lankford asked, between Trump indicating he?d like Comey to let go of his investigation into Flynn and the president tweeting his displeasure with the Russian probe as a whole.

?Is there any question that the president is not real fond of this investigation?? Lankford quipped. ?I?ve heard you share before in this conversation that you?re trying to keep the agents that are working on it away from any comment the president might have made. Quite frankly the president has informed around six billion people that he?s not real fond of this investigation. Do you think there?s a difference in that??

Again, Comey directed Republicans to recognize everything Trump did that one day during their February meeting.

?There?s a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the Oval Office, looking the FBI director in the eye, and saying ?hope you let this go,?? Comey said. ?I think if agents ? as good as they are ? heard the president of the United States did that, there?s a real risk of a chilling effect on their work.?

Although Comey often called the entire situation a ?very big deal,? some Republicans tried to suggest that the ex-FBI director?s reaction showed it was not.

After Comey testified that he told Sessions he never wanted to be alone in a room with Trump again, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested Comey?s subsequent actions showed something different, including Comey being willing to take Trump?s calls.

?What is the difference in being in the room alone with him and talking to him on the phone alone?? Blunt asked.

Comey answered that it was similar, so he made sure to inform his own FBI team about them and the deputy attorney general.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wanted to know why Comey didn?t just speak up.

?At the time, did you say anything to the president about ? that is not an appropriate request, or did you tell the White House counsel, that is not an appropriate request, someone needs to go tell the president that he can?t do these things?? Rubio said.

Comey admitted that when it happened he was ?stunned? and the first thing he thought was to be careful what he said next. He ultimately told Sessions, but the attorney general never said anything.

Another tack Republicans tried was suggesting Trump was being treated unfairly. Both Rubio and Blunt argued that it was significant that of all the leaks that kept coming out about Trump, none of them included the information that Comey told Trump three times that the president was not personally under investigation.

Comey didn?t comment on the fairness, but did tell Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) that while it was technically true that Trump wasn?t under investigation, at least one of Comey?s colleagues was concerned about telling Trump that because the colleague believe Trump?s actions as head of his campaign would fall under the probe.

In perhaps the oddest case of the fairness argument, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that it was a double standard for Comey to clear HIllary Clinton in the completed investigation of her private email system, but not to clear Trump in the ongoing Russia probe. McCain seemed to suggest that Clinton?s emails had something to do with the Russian campaign to influence the election.

?She?s one of the candidates, but in her case you say there will be no charges, and in the case of President Trump, the investigation continues,? McCain said.

?I?m a little confused,? Comey professed of McCain?s complaint, noting that the Clinton investigation was long finished.

McCain was asked by reporters later why he thought Clinton should be part of the Russia probe when Russia?s alleged meddling was directed against her.

?That?s what some people say, but whatever,? McCain said. ?She was declared completely innocent of any involvement whatsoever, and there?s a whole lot of other questions out there.?

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