What a circus….with Comey getting ready to cash in on a book deal…
From the Chicago Tribune:
With former FBI Director James Comey testifying in Washington about Russian interference in the 2016 elections, with all that red meat on the table, Americans were free to tear at the chunks they liked best and all tribes could walk away feeling they’d been well fed, even as the Russians laughed.
Was President Donald Trump an evil man pressuring Comey to stop an investigation of his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn‘s dealings with the Russians to obstruct justice? Was Comey some kind of Galahad, a true knight for defying the mad orange king he called a liar?
Or is Comey a skillful bureaucratic knife-fighter, practiced in the dark Washington arts, leaking his notes through a third party to The New York Times in order to manipulate the call for a special prosecutor and exact revenge upon the president, whom he despises?
Your point of view is most likely dictated by your politics. And even before Comey finished his testimony, eager partisans were running with their select chunks of meat, waving them in front of their followers.
We’re all so tribal now, aren’t we? The public well has been poisoned by Trump’s fundamental misunderstanding of government and his ham-handedness, by his ridiculous addiction to Twitter, and on the other side by all the venom spit at him by the Kemalists of the Washington political/media establishment threatened by Trump’s election.
So it was a day of politics, of oily lips and half-truths, and not an especially good one for Trump, or Comey, or the Democrats, the Republicans or the Washington media, which took several hits for pushing incorrect but politically driven stories about Trump and Russian collusion
One is that Trump almost certainly did not obstruct justice by firing Comey. The former FBI director said he was uncomfortable with Trump but couldn’t say that the president had engaged in obstruction. He deferred. He knows the law.
But Trump’s brutal handling of Comey, and his stupid decision in a meeting to order his top aides out of the Oval Office so he could to tell Comey one-on-one that he “hoped” the FBI boss would take it easy on Flynn, is repulsive on several grounds.
It was the wrong thing to do. And it demonstrated how little Trump knows about how things work.
Yet wrong, even repulsive behavior is not a crime. And in his testimony, Comey acknowledged that though he was stunned, that he may have had a weak moment, that he may not have been “Captain Courageous” in his meetings with Trump, he never told Trump he was out of line.
The second takeaway is that the president’s desperate…statement about how Comey told him three times he was not being investigated for colluding with Russia was true.
Imagine that. It was held up to public ridicule. And most of us thought it awkward and absurd, that Trump would announce Comey’s firing on Twitter and add that business about the three times.
For months now, Democrats and much of the media has been consumed with pushing the notion that Trump was the bobo of Russian boss Vladimir Putin. And many media outlets insisted that Trump’s claim about Comey telling him three times that he was not under investigation was false.
The word “collusion” was shouted almost endlessly, on cable news, in newspapers, partly as a rationale for Democrat Hillary Clinton losing the 2016 election.
But Comey testified that Trump was not personally being investigated for colluding with the Russians. He also noted that a New York Times story about Trump and Russian collusion, one that triggered cable news commentary, was absolutely bogus.
As the Trump collusion theory has waned, the Democrats and their allies in media required a new one: obstruction. This in part because of Trump’s odd tweet and his bumbling in trying to protect Flynn, and also because it would lead, as Comey knew it would, to the appointment of a special prosecutor.
What was most devastating to Trump was Comey’s presence: Tall, straight-backed, every inch the credible federal prosecutor in some Hollywood movie, calling the president a liar.
“The administration chose to defame me and more important the FBI, by saying the organization was poorly led,” said Comey. “Those were lies, plain and simple.”
A president being called out as a liar by a former FBI director is devastating. No Trump White House spin can ease it.
But there was something I hope isn’t lost from Thursday’s hearing. It was a Comey exchange with Sen. Marco Rubio, the Republican of Florida who ran against Trump in that bitter GOP primary when there was much talk of the size of hands.
Rubio’s was a direct shot not at Comey, but at the so-called Gang of Eight, the bipartisan Congressional intelligence leadership.
“You know this (Russian) investigation is full of leaks, left and right,” Rubio told Comey. “You ever wonder why, of all the things in this investigation, the only thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the president is not personally under investigation? Despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans and leaders of Congress knew that and have known that for weeks?”
Comey pursed his lips.
“I don’t know,” he said, adding that briefings to the Gang of Eight “are pretty tightly held. In my experience.”
So much about Trump has been leaked, and carved up and chewed upon, by Republicans, Democrats and the media, but this was kept secret by the establishment?
Thursday in Washington certainly was a day of drama, and of meat, but apparently, not a day of honor.
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