What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 28, 2017

Senator Toomey Responds! (Or, rather, "Responds")

It's been a while since we've heard from Pennsylvania's jr Senator. Initially, he wrote back to me via the USPS but then he started responding via email.

Yesterday was no exception. It was email. Which is good for me because it's easier to cut and paste his responses.

So what was he responding to? Which of my NINETEEN (so far) letters is he answering?

His first line is a clue:
Thank you for contacting me about Russian actions during the 2016 election. I appreciate hearing from you.
Before we go any further, I just noticed something. Toomey's first sentence in response to my ninth letter begins like this:
Thank you for contacting me about the situation in Syria. I appreciate hearing from you.
And his response to my seventh letter begins like this:
Thank you for contacting me about United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. I appreciate hearing from you.
Hmm. I'm beginning to think there's a pattern here.

Anyway, which letter could it be? Toomey's next paragraph offers a clue-er-two:
Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump recently fired Mr. Comey, and has nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. It is now up to the Senate to vet and confirm this nomination.
There are only three of my letters that mention Comey:
  • The Sixth - but that's about Trump's false allegation lie about the Obama Administration wiretapping him.
  • The Thirteenth - but that's about Trump's leaking of sensitive intelligence to the Russian Ambassador in the Oval Office, not about Russian interference in our recent election.
  • The Fourteenth - but that was about Trump firing Comey and calling him a "nut job."
As far as I can tell, I've never actually asked Senator Toomey about Comey investigating any "potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government" so I am at a loss as to which letter he's answering.

In any event, here's the letter in its entirety:
Thank you for contacting me about Russian actions during the 2016 election. I appreciate hearing from you.

Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump recently fired Mr. Comey, and has nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. It is now up to the Senate to vet and confirm this nomination.

In the interim, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to continue the investigation into any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation - an assignment that encompasses the recent allegations surrounding Michael Flynn and Mr. Comey. I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.

I look forward to reviewing the findings of Special Counsel Mueller and the findings by the various House and Senate Committees investigating these issues. If the Russian government or its agents meddled in our election, they should face serious consequences. Towards that end, I was pleased to support legislation (S. 722) that codified and strengthened existing sanctions on Russia. If the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the election, then that should be disclosed and acted upon, too. Russia remains a dangerous threat, and Congress must remain vigilant against our adversaries' attempts to expand their influence and undermine trust in our government.

While I am not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, please be assured I understand your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward. Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
A few take-aways from the letter:
  • He said he appreciates hearing from me and that I should not hesitate to contact him in the future.
  • He said he has "every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities (the investigation into any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation - an assignment that encompasses the recent allegations surrounding Michael Flynn and Mr. Comey) with integrity and professionalism." Though I don't know what Comey allegations he's referring to.
  • He said, that if the Russian government/agents interfered in the election, "they should face serious consequences."
  • He said that if the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, "then that should be disclosed and acted upon, too." Though you'll note that the language he used was much less harsh than the "serious consequences" for Russia. 
And here's the questions from the above letters that he didn't answer:
  • Sixth Letter - "Ok, so here's the thing. If there's no evidence that supports those tweets (about Obama wiretapping him), then there has never been any evidence to support those tweets. And yet, Trump repeated the allegation as recently as this week in his press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    This, after numerous other refutations of his charge by former NSA/CIA director Michael Hayden, former DNI James Clapper and others.

    The facts are clear and yet Donald Trump continues to push this untruth. So here's my question: How much does this erode your confidence in his ability as a leader?"
  • Thirteenth Letter - "Given the events of the last few days (the Comey firing and the disclosure of highly classified information to the Russians) do you a still have confidence in Donald J Trump's ability to be president and commander in chief? If not, what are your plans to deal with him? If you still do have confidence in his leadership abilities, considering the events of the past few days, what would it take for you to lose that confidence?"
  • Fourteenth Letter - "A few days ago the New York Times reported that Donald Trump, in his meeting in the Oval Office with the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador to the US, called the former head of the FBI James Comey (who he'd just fired) "crazy" and "a real nut job."

    Here's my question: Are you OK with any of this?

    Are you OK with the president of the United States in effect bragging to the Russian Ambassador that he'd just fired the guy in charge of the investigation into whatever connections there may have existed between his presidential campaign and Russian intelligence?

    Are you OK with his characterization of Comey as "crazy" and "a real nutjob" during that brag?"
It's nice to see Senator Toomey supporting Robert Mueller and going on the record saying that if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians then that's something to be "acted upon." To be honest, I'd rather get an answer to "given all of Trump's shenanagans, what would it take for Toomey to lose confidence in him?" or whether he's OK with Trump lying about being wiretapped and so on.

Time will tell. More letters to Toomey to come. I promise.

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