Analysis: ‘You’re fired’ may backfire. Untethered James Comey now Trump’s greatest threat

WASHINGTON — In business and now in politics, Donald Trump has proved himself time and again extraordinarily adept at vanquishing all comers.His unlikely path to the White House is littered with would-be political challengers, whom he tattooed with disparaging monikers such as “Lyin' Ted Cruz’’ or “Crooked Hillary.’’ And of course, the real estate mogul is virtually synonymous with the catchphrase, "You're fired!"But by firing the FBI director — who was running an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between his campaign associates and Russia — Trump has unleashed a formidable rival who may finally outdo him.An untethered James Comey is now the single greatest threat to his young administration.Explosive revelations that Comey maintained secret files of his encounters with Trump, including a February meeting in which the president pressed Comey to shut down the FBI investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, gives Comey even more power than he had as FBI director."I think the president wildly underestimated Comey and the organization of the FBI," said Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director who worked with Comey. "Jim Comey represents a huge challenge to the viability of this president."The bureau’s wide-ranging inquiry into Russia’s intervention is not close to completion, but less than 24 hours after the existence of the former director’s personal files was made public, the news sent a shiver through Congress unlike any of the recent crises that have engulfed the White House.Lawmakers are now clamoring for Comey's notes or any recordings of the private conversations. At least four congressional committees — Senate Judiciary, Senate Intellingence, House Intelligence and House Oversight — have either requested documents, threatened subpoenas, or signaled that they will. Read more:As Continue Reading

Trump pressed James Comey to close FBI inquiry into former adviser Michael Flynn

WASHINGTON – President Trump pressed James Comey to shut down the agency's inquiry into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, said a person who has reviewed the notes the now-fired FBI director took of the unusual encounter.Trump asked to meet with Comey alone, following a February national security briefing involving Vice President Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said the person who is not authorized to comment publicly."I hope you can let this go,'' Trump told Comey in the White House meeting according to the person.It was an apparent reference to the bureau’s counterintelligence inquiry into possible collusion between Trump campaign associates — including Flynn — and Russian officials accused of seeking to influence the presidential election. The incident was first reported Tuesday by the The New York Times.Trump abruptly fired Comey last week, in a move Democratic lawmakers decried as an attempt to short-circuit the Russia investigation.Comey kept his own log of all his discussions with Trump because he was suspicious of the president's motives, according to the source.The meeting in question took place Feb. 14, the day after Trump fired Flynn because he had misled colleagues – including Vice President Pence – about the substance of phone calls he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.The FBI has been reviewing Flynn's contacts with Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration, in which he discussed sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia. Those conversations were secretly monitored by federal authorities, as are most communications involving foreign diplomats. Flynn initially denied discussing the sanctions, but later said the subject may have surfaced.The White House strongly disputed the claims late Tuesday. "While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served Continue Reading

Two 70-somethings, Theodore Wilson and George Flynn, killed after mid-air skydiving collision

He fell in love with skydiving at 60, an antidote to old age. Over the next decade Theodore (Teddy) Wilson would jump into the sky 545 times. And if anyone thought a 70-year-old man shouldn't be leaping into the air, Wilson could always point to his pal and fellow sky diver, George Flynn, who was 75. "I think in a previous life he might have been a bird or eagle or something," said Wilson's wife, Tumika, a pediatrician. "Some people would be comfortable sitting in front of the TV all day watching a football game. That's their joy. His joy is going out and seeing a sunny day and a blue sky and checking the winds," she said. Wilson and Flynn were killed Saturday, plunging nearly 100 feet to their deaths after their parachute cords became entangled above the Poconos. "He died doing the thing he loved the best," a devastated Tumika Wilson said yesterday. "He went out to play, and that's what he was doing," the heartsick woman said. "I can't think of a better way to die if you have to die. I'm grateful for that." The freak accident unfolded 75 miles from New York City in East Stroudsburg, Pa., during a group jump organized by a company called Sky's the Limit. Wilson was on his third and final jump of the day when he, Flynn and 18 others leaped from a plane at 13,500 feet. Witnesses said Wilson and Flynn appeared to be having textbook perfect jumps, free-falling for about a minute before deploying their chutes. But in an instant, something went terribly wrong.As they floated to the ground, the men inexplicably slammed into each other in midair, witnesses said. The lines of their parachutes got tangled up, sending them both spiraling out of control to the earth."It shouldn't have happened," said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper James Wheeler. "They were both experienced jumpers."While Wilson had plenty of experience, Flynn had even more, with 1,500 jumps under his belt, Wheeler said."These men knew what they were doing," Continue Reading

Milwaukee Bucks, who wanted to draft Jonny Flynn, get ‘lucky’ and end up with Brandon Jennings

Before the draft, Bucks officials decided to use the 10th pick on either Syracuse's Jonny Flynn or Brandon Jennings, who had played in Italy last season rather than go to the University of Arizona. Every time the choice came down to a vote of five team officials, Jennings got more votes than Flynn. It wasn't much of a surprise, since he was considered the best high school player (at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia) before he set off for Italy to do his one season overseas. Three Bucks officials had also seen him play in person and had come back with glowing reports. But since the Bucks' previous No. 1 pick, Joe Alexander, had done practically nothing as a rookie in 2008-09, the team felt that Flynn would be the safer choice. Alexander played only 59 games and had averaged less than five points and two rebounds in his first season. As intriguing as Jennings was, because Alexander was a bust, the Bucks felt they needed a sure thing. So they decided to go with Flynn, the safe pick. Then they got lucky. By the time the Bucks made their selection, Flynn was already off the board. Minnesota took Flynn at No. 6, immediately after taking another point guard, Ricky Rubio of Spain at No. 5. The back-to-back picks of point guards threw the draft into chaos. But it also resulted in Jennings falling right into the Bucks' lap, as several teams looking at or needing a point guard, including the Warriors, Knicks and Raptors, passed on the Compton, Calif., product. It's funny how it's worked out. Jennings has been sensational, scoring 55 points in one game against Golden State and giving the Bucks great playmaking, as Milwaukee started off strong at 6-3. Going into the weekend, he was ninth in the league in scoring, at 24.8 ppg, hitting 48% from the field and 56% on three-pointers. His shot selection has been questionable at times, but he came to the pros equipped with lightning quick moves, great range and a swagger he's had for as long as anyone can remember. "Once he Continue Reading

NBA Power Rankings: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers still on top as Lakers hold on to 2nd

LeBron and Co. are back on top in Mitch Lawrence's weekly NBA power rankings. Thought it isn't hard to figure out where the Nets land on this list, take a gander at where the Knicks end up. You might be surprised. 1. Cleveland (28-9; Last Week: 1)LeBron James and Co., who have won 13 of their last 15 games, and get Denver, Portland, Golden State, and the Clippers over the next eight days. 2. Lakers (28-7; LW: 2)Pau Gasol! The Lakers' loss to the Clippers showed just how much they miss their top frontcourt player. The only good news, lately: Kobe Bryant will soon pass Jerry West as the Lakers' all-time leading scorer (25,192 points). 3. Boston (25-8; LW: 4) Kevin Garnett continues to sit, Paul Pierce is back from an infected knee and none too soon. During the captain's absence, the Celtics lost three of five games. 4. Dallas (24-11; LW: 5)Philly in a playoff game Saturday at 7. Half an hour later, the Mavs tip off against Utah at home. Think there will be a few empty seats when Mark Cuban's team takes the court? He's not happy about it. 5. Phoenix (23-13; LW: 10) 6. San Antonio (21-12; LW: 11) The Spurs are rolling, but they'll find out in four days just how good they really are when they play the Lakers for the first time this season. 7. Portland (22-15; LW: 7)Blazers have already lost six home games, after going 34-7 at home last season. It's not going to get any better. Next up in the Rose Garden: Lakers tonight and Cavaliers on Sunday. 8. Orlando (24-11; LW: 3) Milwaukee and Minnesota. No wonder Stan Van Gundy says his players need to "turn things around, 180 degrees." 9. Atlanta (22-12; LW: 6) Hawks have won just 11 of their last 21, prompting a players-only meeting. Whatever was said in there had better work, with a home-and-home with the Celtics and another game at Orlando over the next four days. 10. Denver (22-13; LW: 8)Nuggets host the Cavaliers tomorrow, they'll get Chauncey Billups back after he missed eight of the last nine Continue Reading

NBA Power Rankings: LeBron James finds the low post as the Cleveland Cavaliers stay No. 1

1. Cleveland (30-10*; Last week: 1)LeBron James, who can either jump over defenders or overpower them. One question: What took him so long? 2. Lakers (30-9; LW: 2)Pau Gasol, the Lakers lost four straight road games, with three by double figures, and one by nine points (at Portland). But they bounced back with big win in Big D, even with Kobe Bryant ailing. 3. Boston (27-10*; LW: 3)Kevin Garnett is going to be: "Garnett will be out until after the All-Star break." 4. San Antonio (24-13; LW: 6)Oklahoma City coming as Tim Duncan sat out the back end of a back-to-back set to get some rest. 5. Denver (25-14; LW: 10)Warriors), they've recovered to defeat Cleveland, without Carmelo Anthony, and Orlando. Against the Magic, they held Dwight Howard to eight points, his second-lowest total of the season. 6. Dallas (25-13; LW: 4)Mavs couldn't beat the Lakers, at home, with L.A. missing an injured Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant slowed by back trouble? 7. Phoenix (24-15; LW: 5)Indiana was not the best way to start a four-game trip, with the next stop in Atlanta. 8. Portland (24-16; LW: 7)Brandon Roy is having trouble with a hamstring that might KO him from Friday night's game against Orlando. "I'm concerned," Roy said. "I don't want to miss two weeks of basketball." 9. Orlando (26-13; LW: 8)Vince Carter, and the Magic still has the Blazers Friday night and the Lakers Monday in L.A. 10. Atlanta (25-13; LW: 9)Miami and Boston, the Hawks were 2-4, with their only two wins over the Celtics. 11. Oklahoma City (21-17; LW: 11) 12. New Orleans (20-17; LW: 13) 13. Houston (22-17; LW: 17)Aaron Brooks' night in the Rockets' three-OT win over Minnesota. He played 59 minutes, the most by an NBA player this season, and tagged rookie Jonny Flynn for a career-high 43 points. 14. Utah (21-17*; LW: 14)Jazz put their 7-0 home record vs. the East on the line Thursday night vs. the Cavaliers. 15. Memphis (19-18; LW: 15)Michael Heisley has been so caught up with his Continue Reading

Jonny Flynn, Syracuse top Arizona State to reach Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament

MIAMI - In a game it controlled from the opening tip, Syracuse's only real fear was that, at some point, Arizona State's All-America guard James Harden was going to bust loose and lead a comeback that could change everything. But all Harden did was leave everyone wondering why he is being so widely hyped as an NBA lottery pick this summer. The 6-5 guard was so passive that his teammates begged him at halftime to assert himself, and still Harden scored only 10 points on 2-of-10 shooting, allowing third-seeded Syracuse to move on to the South Regional semifinals. Not that the Orange wasn't impressive in its own right on the way to a 78-67 win Sunday, setting up a meeting with No. 2 Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 Friday in Memphis. More and more, in fact, Syracuse (28-9) looks like a team with legitimate championship possibilities. Jim Boeheim said his team is playing its best offense of the season because it is getting stronger inside play to go with its noted 3-point shooting, which led to five players scoring in double figures Sunday. And then there is the defense. Indeed, this was a day when the legend of Syracuse's 2-3 zone, Boeheim's trademark defense that has brought him 799 career victories, grew still a little more as the Orange bottled up Harden, closed down the paint and forced sixth-seeded Arizona State (25-10) to hoist a total of 35 3-pointers. The zone was so effective that afterward Sun Devils point guard Derek Glasser sounded as if he didn't quite believe Syracuse only had five players on the court. "They do a great job of covering a lot of ground," said Glasser. "It doesn't seem like they're there, but then they have two guys there." Arizona State had watched Syracuse on tape, of course, but coach Herb Sendek indicated the Orange was bigger inside than his team anticipated, and every bit as quick outside as they expected in the person of point guard Jonny Flynn. "We wanted to attack," Sendek said, "but they just don't give you many Continue Reading

Michael Flynn faces legal peril in Washington. In his Rhode Island hometown, he’s revered.

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. — They show up unannounced, with cash and checks to drop off at William Flynn's accounting firm on busy Aquidneck Avenue. "I was shocked and a little embarrassed," he said. "Some don't even know my brother, but they...wanted to do something for the family."And at a local wedding celebration earlier this month, a guest sought out Jack Flynn for a private moment. “I don’t have a lot of money," the wedding guest told him. “But I want you to know that I wrote a check for $100 to help your brother."Michael Flynn is one of the most vulnerable figures in special counsel Robert Mueller's widening inquiry into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. That investigation took a dramatic step forward this week, when former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates were charged with money laundering and conspiracy for activities that took place before they joined the campaign. Another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopolous, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts – Mueller's first public allegation that an aide to President Trump’s campaign sought to work with Russian officials to gather “dirt” on the Democratic nominee.Unlike Manafort – whom prosecutors allege spent more than $1 million from offshore accounts on clothes alone – and many other Trump associates caught in the investigation's grip, Flynn and his family are not wealthy. As he struggles with legal costs verging on seven figures, residents of the small community Flynn calls home are rallying to his side, even though this New England town hardly qualifies as Trump Country – it's a deep blue stronghold where even some of his own family have long identified as Democrats.The Flynns never occupied any of the ostentatious Newport mansions that overlook the most privileged coastline in Rhode Island. But the Continue Reading

White House, DOJ miss Senate deadline to provide James Comey memos, records

WASHINGTON – The White House and Justice Department broke a Senate committee's Wednesday deadline to turn over any records detailing conversations between President Trump and James Comey before the FBI director's abrupt firing earlier this month, instead requesting more time to respond to lawmakers' demands.The Senate Judiciary Committee demanded the records earlier this month after revelations Comey documented his telephone calls and meetings with the president in highly detailed memos – including a February dinner meeting in which Trump allegedly pressed Comey to shut down the FBI's inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The contents of the memos were described by a person who has reviewed the documents to news outlets including USA TODAY, but lawmakers are seeking the original text.The committee also sent a separate request to White House counsel Donald McGahn asking for any audio recordings of the president's interactions with Comey. Trump raised the prospect that secret recordings may exist in tweet following Comey's dismissal – "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" Trump tweeted on May 12 – but the White House has since refused to confirm or deny whether the president records his conversations."We are still awaiting official responses from both the Justice Department and White House,'' the Senate Judiciary Committee said in a statement late Wednesday."The committee is seeking a broad set of material, some of which may be related to the special counsel's investigation, but some of it certainly is not.''After Comey's abrupt removal and the disclosure of the former director's memos sparked questions about possible obstruction of justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to oversee the FBI's Russia investigation.Unless the Continue Reading

Fired a month in: Michael Flynn’s rise and very fast fall

President Trump's national security adviser didn't last a month on the job.Retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn helped shape Trump's views on combatting terrorism and the president appointed him to one of the most influential positions in his administration. But questions about Flynn's ties to Russia eventually led to his resignation.Here are the key elements to Flynn's rise and fall:Flynn, who was highly regarded by many in the military and intelligence communities, developed a reputation as being an innovative thinker who sometimes fought against an entrenched military bureaucracy. He was the top intelligence official in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the American involvement in the wars there. He is credited with helping develop a system to effectively use battlefield intelligence to hunt down terrorists and destroy their networks.In 2012, then-president Barack Obama appointed Flynn director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official. He was dismissed from the job in 2014 for his combative style, including reported clashes with former director of national intelligence James Clapper.Flynn became an outspoken critic of Obama and his administration's anti-terrorism efforts. Flynn said the U.S. is at war with "radical Islamic terrorism" and was highly critical of the president's refusal to use the term. Obama said he did not wish to frame the war on terror along religious lines. His critical view of Obama's approach to national security and his hardline stance on terrorism meshed with Trump's views, leading him to become a trusted Trump adviser on national security issues.While Flynn's position on Islamic extremism endeared him to Trump and many of his supporters, it also made him highly controversial. In February 2016 he tweeted that "fear of Muslims is rational." He said Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology and compared it to a cancer, according to the Dallas Morning News. He also has Continue Reading