Comey Blow Your Horn
Random observation from Comey Testifies Day
If nothing else comes from so newsworthy a day, the phrase "Lordy, I hope there are tapes" almost made it all worthwhile. That aside, the question remains that if there aren't tapes, why did Trump try to suggest that their were? The most likely answer is that it was an effort to pressure Comey, which itself could be abuse of power. My favorite response to the question of "Are there tapes?" came for the dear Kellyanne Conway who replied, "I can't answer that. I'm in the White House." Of course, being in the White House has zero meaning to the question, since their existence (or not) is not classified. It's just a basic yes/no question. When Alexander Butterfield revealed the existence of White House taping during Watergate, it wasn't an illegal "leak." It was just a basic statement. People were shocked, not because he revealed something he shouldn't, but because they existed.
The investigation is about Russian influence in the election, this was not an impeachment hearing. So, what I found especially important in James Comey's testimony is how rock-solid blunt and emphatic he was about his absolute certainty with zero doubt that Russia was indeed involved, and would continued to try to affect U.S. elections, and this was a deeply critic national issue, not a Democratic and Republican one. And with that in mind, it's important to remember how dismissive Trump has been about that from the beginning. And still to this day finds no urgency to addressing and resolving the matter. For someone so supposedly insistent on "security," this seems a major lapse. And that part of Comey's testimony, which again is the whole point of the committee's investigation, got little news attention after.
I as struck by a great, pointed comment that Sen. Kamala Harris made during her question time. It came after so many Republican senators kept trying to make a point that the president never specifically ordered Comey to back off the FBI investigation, but merely "hoped" that he would, just hoped, nothing more, hoped. When it was the turn for Harris (the former Attorney General of California), she said --
"Mr. Comey, I'm not going to ask you to respond to this, but you and I are both former prosecutors. And when we were trying a case, if a suspect was holding a gun at people and said, 'It is my hope that you will give me your money,' the operative word was not 'hope.'"
(Related to this is how aghast I was the day before when the Republican chairman of the committee, Sen. Burr, interrupted her questioning of a witness and chastised her for how harsh her questioning was. My immediate reaction was that if she had been a white male and not a black woman, the chairman would never, ever have done that. I wish we could have heard her response to him afterwards behind closed doors.)
I thought the worst questioning of the day -- by far -- was by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) which shocked me because he's one of the most critical senators of Trump. But he was obsessed with trying to draw a distinction between Comey's having concluded his investigation of Hillary Clinton, but not of Trump, something McCain kept saying -- and saying and saying for about four minutes -- was unfair and imbalanced because they both were running for president. He just "couldn't understand," he kept repeating, Comey kept trying to explain (poorly, I thought), but McCain simply couldn't understand. The answer was really easy. "Sen. McCain, the investigation into Hillary Clinton was specifically and solely whether she personally had done anything illegal in the use of her private email server, and the answer was 'No.' The investigation of the White House is part of a larger investigation of Russian interference in the election -- and that is ongoing. And it doesn't pertain only to the White House, but anyone, including Ms. Clinton, although it's worth noting that there have been zero charges of any involvement of collusion with Russia by the Clinton campaign, considering that it them who were negatively affected, and their campaign accounts that were leaked. Do you understand NOW?"
I also found it notable that after being silent for his maniacal tweeting, Trump finally sent out his first (and thus far only) tweet on the subject, saying, "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" This was the best he could do?? 1) James Comey was under oath when he testified, 2) Trump's tweet is not, 3) nothing in their conversation was classified, 4) Comey was a private citizen, and 5) Trump himself leaked from the SAME conversation, So much for "complete vindication" -- especially given, as John McCain kept repeatedly saying, that the investigation is ongoing. Besides which, whether Comey leaked anything, even if inappropriately (or not), what actually matters -- and pretty much the only thing of importance -- is what was leaked.
Finally, I would have loved for more reporters and analysts to note -- which nearly none I saw did -- that any investigation into Trump and his administration does not revolve around this one, single meeting with James Comey. It is just a miniscule, teensy part of a massively-larger, encompassing investigation that involves so many different matters.
SO much more, but that's the starting point. I'm just going to guess there will be more news to come...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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