As I've stated before, the main object of the Russia Hoax was to prevent Donald Trump from taking office as POTUS. How was this to be accomplished, if not by force/violence? The answer is fairly obvious. Trump was to be forced to withdraw or resign by non-physical means--the threat that he could be humiliated, his position made untenable, impeached, hounded from office, ultimately prosecuted. All these things are still being threatened, and that's the point. Threats would be leveled at Trump under the color of law or of official authority, threats that would be presented as if they had a factual predication. The threats would be presented by persons who had official positions in the US government and who would present those threats as expressions of their official authority. Which is to say that Trump would be, in effect, extorted under color of law.
What was Comey doing when he met with Trump at Trump Tower and told him that there were reports of sexual shenanigans involving Trump in a Moscow hotel? I would argue that Comey was attempting to create a situation in which Trump would feel compelled to withdraw before even being inaugurated as POTUS. I would argue that that is a form of extortion and that, coming from the Director FBI, a suggestion was being made that Comey had some degree of control over this situation--if Trump should withdraw, perhaps Comey could make the problem go away. It's an argument.
The appointment of a special counsel itself was an act under color of law, which had no legal predication, as we know and as both McCabe and Rosenstein both had ample reason to know. The fact that they discussed an attempted use of the 25th amendment is another indication of their knowledge of the lack of predication for a criminal investigation. Was the appointment of a special counsel made with the object of pressuring Trump to resign? His initial reaction ("I'm f*cked") is evidence. I would argue that this, too, was a form of extortion.
Finally, as John Solomon has reported within the last few days, within two weeks of the initiation of the Mueller inquisition Andrew Weissmann had approached the lawyers for a Ukrainian oligarch under US indictment and made offers that for all the world appeared to have been an attempt to suborn perjured testimony against Trump. The idea being, I would argue, that if the imminent threat of criminal allegations could be presented publicly Trump would feel forced to resign.
The question is: Is there a specific statute to cover this? Perhaps a reader can come up with something. My very tentative search just now yielded 18 USC 242:
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States ...
At any rate, I think this general direction--some form of extortion--may hold some promise. But I welcome input.
Unsurprisingly, I'm not the only one, nor the first, to be thinking along those lines--the lines of extortion. It also comes as no surprise to learn that most of the atttention in this regard has focused on the example I list first: Comey's January 6, 2017, "briefing" of Trump on the Steele "dossier's" most salacious--and only the most salacious--claims. In researching another matter I came up with these relevant items from May 16, 2019.
First, Laura Ingraham interviewed Rudy Giuliani. The interview starts out focusing on the subpoena "avalanche" being directed against the Trump Administration, but then shifts to other matters. Laura at one point mentions that she has heard reports that Comey, in an email or some other document, explicitly argued against including anything from the Steele dossier in the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), on the grounds that the dossier was unreliable--but that John Brennan insisted on using this material. (Note that this episode reflects commenter Unknown's suggestion that Comey could well have kept notes that might be used against others, such as Brennan.) Riffing off this reference to the dossier, Laura then brought up recent reports that FBI officials had been concerned that Comey's planned "briefing" of Trump would, in fact, look like blackmail. To be precise, former FBI general counsel James Baker--a long time friend of Comey--had said that he and others were so concerned that "analogies" were made to J.Edgar Hoover, the former FBI director who famously abused his power to blackmail individuals. Rudy launched. Here's how the exchange went:
LAURA: And Rudy, apparently there was some talk about how this would look, this could look like among intel sources, that it could look like the FBI was doing some kind of weird preemptive blackmail with the president in that Comey going to that meeting. It didn't look good. They were worried with Comey presenting the dossier would look like he was kind of having some J. Edgar Hoover tactics against the president. That is really disturbing."
GIULIANI: It doesn't look like it, it was. The reality is that Comey is, the noose is tightening around his neck really bad.
Comey in January told the president it was 'salacious and unverified.' How did it become 'salacious and unverified' over five months? When they used it in affidavits in which Comey says on the top of the affidavit that it's verified, in footnote five, page 15, he says it's reliable, not unverified. In other words, he either lied to the president or he lied to the court. I'm betting on he lied to the court and we call that perjury, Jim, and Brennan may be a witness against him.
Now, here are Baker's exact words from the Yahoo News podcast Skullduggery, as recounted by Fox. It sure looks like Baker is engaging in some CYA here, including at the expense of his erstwhile friend, Comey:
"We were quite worried about the Hoover analogies, and we were determined not to have such a disaster happen on our watch.
The former top FBI lawyer explained why he clashed with Comey over whether to tell Trump that he wasn't the subject of the Russia investigation. According to Baker, he argued that the then President-elect's activities "fell into the category" of being a subject and he didn't think it was "accurate" to say otherwise. By contrast, Comey repeatedly told Trump that the president was not under investigation before his dismissal in May 2017.
Nonetheless, Baker said he supported any investigation that is looking into the origins of the Russia probe.
“I welcome scrutiny,” Baker said. “I plan to fully cooperate with the department to help them figure out what happened. Because I believe what happened was lawful, at least based on every piece of information that I have.”
He thinks it was lawful? Well, he would say that, wouldn't he--with the lawyerly caveat as to information that he has. I wonder how many times he's been interviewed, and whether his recall has improved over time?