Their reputations were taken down not by Donald Trump, but by their attempts to take down Trump.
I was not able to watch James Comey’s testimony today live, as I was in the car much of the day.
I was able to listen to the first hour and a half on terrestrial radio, as so many AM stations were carrying it that I was able to keep tuned even as one station faded out. After that, I followed on Twitter, and since then have seen many accounts and videos of what I missed.
I’m not going to try to catalog the questions and answers, I’m late to that.
Substantively, what jumped out at me was how much of Comey’s testimony was impressionistic — how he felt about what Trump said and what he surmised Trump intended. From a supposedly hardened prosecutor and FBI Director, it was a strange approach, one that must have been deliberate with the knowledge that Comey had very little hard evidence of Trump wrongdoing, much less criminality.
Another startling aspect was how damaging the Comey testimony was to the Russian conspiracy theorists who have driven the media and Democratic war on Trump.
Comey confirmed, again, that even as of his last day in office Donald Trump was not personally the subject of FBI investigation, neither criminal nor counter-intelligence. The lack of investigation, despite media claims otherwise, was not deemed worthy of public disclosure by Comey. Comey was fine to let Trump twist in the wind of misleading and false media claims.
Moreover, Comey stated that a key New York Times report asserting Trump campaign collusion, which sparked much of the frenzy the past several months, was substantively false. On top of that, Comey testified not only that Trump didn’t try to impede the Russia investigation, he actually encouraged Comey to find out and expose whether any of Trump’s campaign “satellites” (I assume that means people working for or with the campaign) engaged in wrongdoing.
This testimony should spell the death of the Russia collusion claims, as even Chris Matthews acknowledged today. But it’s more than a death of conspiracy theories, it’s an indictment of the attempts to undo the 2016 election results and to undermine the Trump administration’s ability to govern. The “resistance” has been and is based on lies, and represents the true threat to our electoral and representative system.
These are the big picture items. The he said / he said dispute over whether Trump asked for “loyalty” is a sideshow.
The real bombshell, however, had nothing to do with what Donald Trump did or didn’t do. It was that moment in the hearings when Comey, under questioning by Susan Collins, acknowledged that he had arranged for a Columbia Law School professor friend of his to leak a memo of his conversation with Trump about Michael Flynn to the NY Times. That memo apparently has not even been given to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the leaking of which may put Comey himself in legal jeopardy.
Even worse, Comey admitted that he arranged the leak of the memo for the express purpose of creating a pretext for appointment of a Special Counsel. Comey succeeded in this subterfuge, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller now is leading the investigation. Comey never had volunteered that leak sequence, and allowed the public debate over appointment of a Special Counsel to proceed under false pretenses.
How pathetic Comey sounded during his testimony. A weak man who couldn’t even muster the courage to tell Donald Trump to his face when he thought Trump had crossed a line. Instead, Comey schemed behind the scenes to document conduct which even Comey will not publicly claim was criminal.
Trump’s distrust of Comey ultimate was vindicated by what we now know about Comey.
Pathetic also was the word that came to mind when Comey described how he succumbed to pressure from then Attorney General Loretta Lynch to call the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server a “matter.” That was how the Clinton campaign wanted it portrayed. From an electoral perspective, they dreaded the accurate description that Hillary was under “investigation.” The Attorney General served as the functional equivalent of a campaign enforcer in the campaign against Trump.
It all puts the secret meeting between Lynch and Bill Clinton in a new perspective, and should result in a re-opened investigation not only of Hillary’s server but a new investigation of Lynch.
So not only does James Comey’s prosecutorial career end pathetically, so too does Loretta Lynch’s. Their reputations were taken down not by Donald Trump, but by their attempts to take down Trump.
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