Trump tears into FBI for investigating him
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
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