Rachel Maddow shined a light on Monday’s firing of FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, saying it’s part of a dangerous pattern of Donald Trump “picking off” all of former FBI director James Comey’s corroborating witnesses.
According to Maddow, Trump has systematically fired, forced out or blown up the careers of anyone that would back up Comey’s damning testimony about the president.
“If all the corroborating witnesses have been picked off and blown up, who is left to say what happened there at all?” Maddow asked on Monday. “Who is left to say otherwise now?”
[Comey] told all these people, crucially, at the time so they could corroborate what Comey said at the time about what happened. And these are not just job titles. There are specific people who had these jobs at the time in question. Comey and the corroborating witnesses for Comey and his account of what the president did. Well, it has taken them a little while to get all the way through this list, but the only one still there is David Bowdich, the one at the bottom there. He had been the number three official at the FBI, the associate deputy director. Now he’s moved up to be number two, not number three at the FBI. David Bowdich is apparently the one who personally directed today that counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok be fired even though the FBI’s office of personnel management had decided that Strzok should be kept on. Bowdich, the FBI deputy director now, he’s the only one left of all the corroborating witnesses for Jame’s Comey’s testimony. James Comey’s testimony that the president leaned on him to shut down an open FBI investigation into the national security adviser. And with all of them, almost all of them, all picked off now, who is going to back up James Comey? If the president leaning on the FBI director about that investigation is itself a matter of personal criminal liability for the president when it comes to obstruction of justice, well, who’s gonna back Comey up now? Once you work your way through all the witnesses who might testify otherwise, well, then of course you’re free to tell any story you want about what happened between the president and the FBI director. And if all the corroborating witnesses have been picked off and blown up, who is left to say what happened there at all? Who is left to say otherwise now?
This is a slow-moving train of obstruction
These firings may not have happened in rapid succession, but Trump has followed a clear pattern of obstruction over the course of the past year and a half. One by one, he has picked off witnesses that corroborated the testimony of former FBI James Comey.
First, Trump smears those who may have dirt on him, then he either fires them or forces them out. At that point, he has convinced enough people in his base and in the right-wing media that these voices – often credible, career members of the intelligence community – are corrupt and shouldn’t be trusted.
This is obstruction of justice in plain sight, and it’s more evidence that Donald Trump recognizes just how much legal jeopardy he is in.
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Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.