that's one way to look at it?
June 7, 2017

Fox News is apparently warming up to the idea of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before the Senate, which begins Thursday. Despite Comey's eye-popping opening statement, which was published online Wednesday, Fox News host Harris Faulkner suggested to Fox's chief White House correspondent John Roberts that "what Comey is saying seems to shoot down the idea that the president was pressuring him to back off of [former National Security Adviser Michael] Flynn."

Comey's testimony "actually then would substantiate and help the president in what he's been saying all along," Faulkner concludes.

The New York Times reported in May that "the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation into links between Mr. Trump's associates and Russia" by telling Comey, "I hope you can let [the investigation into Flynn] go." In his account of events, released Wednesday, Comey specified: "I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn's departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls."

Flynn was ousted in February for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about what was discussed on phone calls with the Russian ambassador. Flynn remains at the heart of investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia due to his conversations with the Russian ambassador, including an apparent discussion of sanctions in December; the Justice Department believed Flynn could have been blackmailed by Russia because the Russians knew Flynn had lied about his conversations.

"James Comey, although he was troubled by what the president was saying to him at that dinner, did not take it to mean that the president was asking him to back off on the entire Flynn investigation and the entire Russia … connection," Roberts interprets. "It was specifically the detail surrounding the firing … and the phone call."

That might be a bit of wishful thinking. Watch below. Jeva Lange

April 28, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer raised some eyebrows this week when he blamed the Trump administration's decision to hire Michael Flynn as national security adviser on former President Barack Obama — but now President Trump is passing blame off on the previous administration, too.

On Friday, Trump told Fox News' Martha MacCallum: "Just remember, [Flynn] was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level." While Trump is technically correct that Flynn served under President Obama, Obama also fired Flynn in 2014 during Defense Intelligence Agency shakeups.

In February, Flynn resigned from the Trump administration after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador prior to being sworn in as national security adviser. Additionally, Flynn was directly told in 2014 not to take money from foreign governments without explicit permission, but he took $34,000 in December 2015 for a speaking gala concerning Russian TV and more than $500,000 for lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests ahead of the November election.

"When they say we didn't vet, well Obama I guess didn't vet, because [Flynn] was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration," Trump said. "So when [Flynn] came into our administration, for a short period of time, he came in, he was already approved of by the Obama administration and he had years left on that approval." In fact, Flynn's clearance was revoked when he was fired by Obama in 2014.

Retired Adm. John Kirby expressed disbelief at the Trump administration's spin of the situation: "It’s absolutely just ridiculous to me to pitch it away on the Obama administration," Kirby told CNN's Jake Tapper. "Yes, he got his clearance while President Obama was still in office, but that's one piece of a much larger process.” Jeva Lange

April 24, 2017

President Trump bragged he helped CBS's Face the Nation news program earn its highest television ratings since the September 11 World Trade Center attacks during an incredible interview with The Associated Press published Sunday evening. Trump called the achievement a "tremendous advantage."

"It's interesting," Trump said. "I have, seem to get very high ratings ... You know, Chris Wallace had 9.2 million people, it's the highest in the history of the show. I have all the ratings for all those morning shows. When I go, they go double, triple. Chris Wallace, look back during the Army-Navy football game, I did his show that morning."

Trump went on to put his ratings in some questionable context:

TRUMP: It had 9.2 million people. It's the highest they've ever had. On any, on air, (CBS Face the Nation host John) Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It's the highest for Face the Nation or as I call it, "Deface the Nation." It's the highest for "Deface the Nation" since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It's a tremendous advantage. [The Associated Press]

The interview saw Trump at what the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale called "the most honest [he] has ever been about his TV obsession," too. "I don't watch CNN anymore," Trump told the AP. "I don't watch MSNBC anymore. I don't watch things, and I never thought I had that ability. I always thought I'd watch." Read the full interview at AP here. Jeva Lange

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