Trump tears into FBI for in­ves­ti­gat­ing him

The News Tribune - - Front Page - BY NI­CHOLAS FAN­DOS AND MICHAEL S. SCH­MIDT New York Times

WASHINGTON

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Satur­day un­leashed an ex­tended as­sault on the FBI and the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, knit­ting to­gether a com­pre­hen­sive al­ter­na­tive story in which he had been framed by dis­graced “losers” at the bureau’s high­est levels.

In a two-hour span start­ing at 7 a.m., the pres­i­dent made a se­ries of false claims on Twit­ter about his ad­ver­saries and the events sur­round­ing the in­quiry. He was re­spond­ing to a re­port in The New York Times that, after he fired James Comey as FBI di­rec­tor in 2017, the bureau be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the pres­i­dent had acted on be­half of Rus­sia.

In his tweets, the pres­i­dent ac­cused Hil­lary Clin­ton, with­out ev­i­dence, of break­ing the law by ly­ing to the FBI. He claimed that Comey was cor­rupt and best friends with spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller. He said Mueller was em­ploy­ing a team of Democrats – an­other mis­lead­ing as­ser­tion – bent on tak­ing him down.

In­di­vid­u­ally, the pres­i­dent’s claims were fa­mil­iar. But as the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­quiry edges ever closer to him, Democrats vow a bliz­zard of in­ves­ti­ga­tions of their own and the gov­ern­ment shutdown reaches record lengths, Trump compiled all the threads of the con­spir­acy the­ory he has pushed for many months in an ef­fort to dis­credit the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Trump ac­cused the FBI of open­ing “for no rea­son” and “with no proof” an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2017 into whether he had been work­ing against Amer­i­can in­ter­ests on be­half of Rus­sia, paint­ing his own ac­tions to­ward Rus­sia as ac­tu­ally “FAR tough- er” than those of his pre­de­ces­sors.

The Times ar­ti­cle, pub­lished Fri­day evening, re­ported that law en­force­ment of­fi­cials be­came so alarmed by Trump’s be­hav­ior sur­round­ing his fir­ing of Comey that they took the ex­plo­sive step of open­ing a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tion against him.

Nam­ing sev­eral of the bureau’s now-de­parted top of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Comey and his deputy, An­drew McCabe,

Trump said the FBI had “tried to do a num­ber on your Pres­i­dent,” ac­cus­ing the “losers” of es­sen­tially fabri­cat­ing a case. “Part of the Witch Hunt,” he wrote – re­fer­ring dis­mis­sively to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion now be­ing over­seen by Mueller.

At the time he was fired in May 2017, Comey had been lead­ing the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s at­tempts to in­flu­ence the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and the of­fi­cials be­lieved that his re­moval, in hin­der­ing the in­quiry, posed a pos­si­ble threat to national se­cu­rity. Their decision to open the case was in­formed, in part, by two in­stances in which Trump tied the fir­ing to the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The in­quiry they opened had two as­pects, in­clud­ing both the newly dis­closed coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence el­e­ment and a crim­i­nal el­e­ment that has long been pub­licly known: whether the fir­ing con­sti­tuted ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

When Mueller was ap­pointed days later, he took over the joint

of 1,166.

That means sec­tions of the newer por­tion of the jail go un­used. Those “pods,” de­signed to hold 84 in­mates in a dor­mi­tory style-setting, su­per­vised by a sin­gle cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer, rep­re­sent the tar­get for Roach’s idea.

She en­vi­sions home­less peo­ple us­ing the pods, with so­cial ser­vice work­ers (not county em­ploy­ees) on hand to pro­vide as­sis­tance.

“What I’m talk­ing about is get­ting hun­dreds of peo­ple off the street,” she said. “It is cold, it is rainy, it’s wet. We want to give shel­ter. We need to get them to come in so we can help them. The con­cept here isn’t that we have jail guards, be­cause they’re not in­mates.”

Part of Roach’s im­pulse stems from her frus­tra­tion with a Novem­ber decision by County Council mem­bers to al­low tiny-home de­vel­op­ments in Pierce County over her ob­jec­tions. She also op­posed a planned 16-bed cri­sis sta­bi­liza­tion cen­ter in Park­land aimed at pro­vid­ing im­me­di­ate ser­vice to peo­ple fac­ing men­tal health emer­gen­cies.

“We’re only nickel-and­dim­ing with these fly-bynight pro­grams,” she said. “The peo­ple in my dis­trict don’t fa­vor spend­ing $100,000 a unit on tiny homes. They do want to find places for the home­less. The jail would be a very good place to ex­plore for help­ing the home­less.”

Roach in­sists that 700 beds are avail­able. Pas­tor says the real num­ber is far lower. He adds that un­used ca­pac­ity at the jail should be re­served for in­mates and crim­i­nal of­fend­ers as the county grows and needs emerge.

“Con­trary to what your mail­ing may sug­gest, there are no va­cant beds in the old jail,” he wrote in his note to her. “On the 4th floor of the new jail, there are two units which are fully out­fit­ted and ready to use for jail hous­ing. The to­tal beds in these units is 168. These are the only units avail­able for hous­ing in­mates in emer­gent sit­u­a­tions, such as con­struc­tion projects, unit equip­ment fail­ure(s), emer­gency book­ing needs, etc.”

Roach, known for com­plain­ing that county lead­ers ex­clude her from prepara­tory con­ver­sa­tions about policy ideas, said she spoke to Pas­tor and Cor­rec­tions Chief Patti Jack­son-Kid­der about her pro­posal long be­fore she sent the mail piece. The 700-bed num­ber came from those con­ver­sa­tions, she said.

The sher­iff’s de­part­ment has a dif­fer­ent view.

“Pam is mis­taken,” Troyer said. “I’ve talked with both Patti and Paul, and they have no mem­ory of that con­ver­sa­tion.”

Roach also didn’t dis­cuss her idea with Robert Thoms and Keith Blocker, two Ta­coma City Council mem­bers whose dis­tricts sur­round the jail. Since the site is within the city, Ta­coma po­lice would have ju­ris­dic­tion over mat­ters re­quir­ing a law en­force­ment re­sponse.

Thoms, calling Roach’s sug­ges­tion “a pretty provoca­tive idea,” said she didn’t dis­cuss it with him, though he added he was will­ing to ex­plore all av­enues to ad­dress the home­less­ness cri­sis.

Blocker was more blunt. “I have not had any dis­cus­sions with Pam Roach ever,” Blocker said. “I’ve not heard of that idea, from her or any­body else from the County Council. I’m not an ad­vo­cate for putting peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness in­side of our jails. I think we could be far more cre­ative in terms of ad­dress­ing the home­less epi­demic. I would be happy to work with the County Council to fig­ure out other strate­gies.”

Roach guessed it would cost $200,000 to cre­ate a sep­a­rate en­try at the new jail for home­less ser­vices. Troyer and Pas­tor said it would likely cost more, though they did not of­fer es­ti­mates. They added that it wouldn’t be as sim­ple as knock­ing down a wall and build­ing a new door.

“You’ve got all the costs to retro­fit,” Troyer said. “You’ve got ex­its, en­trances, el­e­va­tors. You’d be mix­ing pop­u­la­tions.”

Pas­tor’s note to Roach added that the his­tory of the jail in­cludes a lon­grun­ning fed­eral law­suit that im­posed var­i­ous re­stric­tions and penal­ties due to over­crowd­ing. He con­tended that adding a new layer of home­less ser­vices in the same lo­ca­tion would cre­ate new risks.

“The sug­gested use would jeop­ar­dize the over­all op­er­a­tional man­age­ment of the jail by vi­o­lat­ing the safety perime­ter,” he wrote. “It could cre­ate other risks re­lated to dis­ease trans­mis­sion, evac­u­a­tion is­sues, and the dif­fi­culty and cost of con­trol­ling men­tally ill and ad­dicted per­sons in a crowded, con­fined, dor­mi­tory-type space. ... I ap­pre­ci­ate that you seek to find solutions. But use of the jail would likely cre­ate more prob­lems than it would solve.”

Roach, un­de­terred, pointed out that King County lead­ers de­cided last year to open a shut­tered wing of their down­town jail to peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness.

“None of this has been stud­ied,” she said. “It is an idea. This is be­ing done in other places. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and so you find that way.”

Sean Robin­son: 253-597-8486, @sean­robin­sonTNT

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