No, It is Not About James Comey
I've been bemused by a lot of the commentary I've continued to hear about James Comey's testimony and Trump's Rose Garden response -- as well as discussion I've heard in general conversations.
For starters, the perception has been that his testimony is THE matter on which the entire possibility of a Trump impeachment hangs. I find this bizarre. It's a single blip on a vast landscape. There are four major investigations going on -- most notably by the FBI and Special Counsel, but also by the House and Senate. This was merely one conversation that the president had.
Further, as for that one conversation, it strikes me as bizarre that the president's defenders are still focusing so much on the word, "hope." That he wasn't ordering Comey to do anything, but just wistfully offering his wish list. Because as we know, that's how Trump operates, wistfully wishing. Let's forget for a moment though Sen. Kamala Harris's comment during the hearing that, as a former prosecutor, "When a robber points a gun at someone and says, 'I hope you'll give me your money' ...'hope' is not the operative word." Rather, let's look simply at the perspective on which Trump offered his expression of that hope --
First, Trump asked for the room to be cleared of everyone but himself and the FBI director. He then told Comey that he hoped he would drop the Russia investigation. Comey didn't drop the investigation. And Trump fired him. It doesn't take much effort to connect the dots -- after all, it's a straight line. But for anyone still struggling with making basic associations, then to put the cherry on top,Trump himself gave an interview to Lester Holt saying that he fired Comey because of Russia. Outside of discovering a notarized document that says, "Dear Director Comey, You are fired because I told you to drop the FBI's Russia investigation and you didn't. Signed, Donald Trump," this is pretty darn basic.
And let us not forget that Richard Nixon was charged with obstruction of justice for saying nothing more than, "But that would be wrong" and "Uh-huh."
Nor forget that Comey offered meticulous notes. And testified under oath. And has a long history of honesty, whatever one thinks about how he's always handled his job. And Trump, in giving his version -- well, he has only made general public statements and has a long trail of lying. And those who like to point to Comey as "a leaker" and are trying to suggest that that means his testimony is thereby somehow invalidated -- and let's forget for the moment whether the description is apt -- there has been nothing at all offered to show that anything remotely illegal was done by this "leak," and most importantly of all is the fact that "leaked" information nothing to do with refuting that the information was, in fact, true.
But here's the thing. And it's a big thing. Even all this doesn't touch on the FAR-larger point that this is a mere blip compared the great many other issues being looked at by four major investigations.
This includes issues like possible involvement with Russia by Mike Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Carter Page and Paul Manafort -- and did they act on their own, or by direction from above. Beyond that is the report of Trump's Senior Advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner having secret meetings with Russian officials and his potentially looking into setting up back-channel security communications from Russian facilities.
Yet all this doesn't even touch on the area where Trump is probably most at risk -- his business dealings with Russian officials and Russian oligarchs and charges of money laundering. It is near-impossible for me to imagine that over the past 10 years (or more) that Donald Trump has not had financial dealings with Russia, which he insists he hasn't. This starts with the fact that Trump has held is beauty pageant in Russia for years. But then there's the known-reality that U.S. banks and European banks would not loan him any money, so one of the few opportunities available to him was loans from Russian oligarchs. In regards to this, there was the property he bought in Florida for something like $20 million, and only a few months later sold it to a Russian oligarch for around $80 million -- at a time when he was in serious financial trouble. And add in the major article in the New Yorker a couple months back about a Trump hotel built in Azerbaijan, one of the world's most corrupt governments -- the hotel is located in an area almost in the middle of nowhere, is almost impossible to get to, and the trail of money appears to come as laundered loan to Trump from the Red Guard in Iran, which is a terrorist organization. And the article quotes someone who has worked with Trump for years that this is hardly the first deal like this that the Trump organization has done. If the New Yorker has uncovered this, you absolutely know the FBI and Special Counsel have been able to come across the article in their local library and are following-up on it -- and so much more. Besides which, we know that the FBI has requested subpoena's to look into Trump's financial dealings.
And just today, there are reports of major conflict of interest lawsuits from Maryland and D.C. against Trump over business dealings in violation of the emoluments clause in the Constitution.
And as we know from Watergate and Whitewater, where investigations start, from a tiny spot, is not even remotely anywhere near where they end up.
So, for all those people -- including Trump himself -- who think the Big Question (let alone the only question) on the table is simply what Trump said to James Comey, and that he's been "vindicated" because of their interpretation of the word "hope," they are living in a Fool's Paradise.
Leave a Reply.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor