Comey Testimony: Takeaways

Credit: NBC News

James Comey was recently fired by President Trump in a rather odd way and this, like every other Trump piece of writing, sent theories flying around. Now we can look at the real stuff.

Trump’s firing of James Comey was puzzling not because of the action itself but also because of when and why he did it.  There were several theories that attempted to explain these things, but we never really knew until now.  I guess this is the benefit of taking a break from writing for a while — I have a chance to see how it turns out. 

In his opening statement (for testimony on 6/8/17) James Comey draws on his notes allegedly written at the time of his past meetings and calls with President Trump (we don’t have any reason to believe that these notes are illegitimate – but you never know).  I recommend you read the document as it details all the meetings and phone calls that Comey had with President Trump. Considering this statement that came out today (SOURCE), we can now draw some reasonable conclusions about why things have turned out this way. And these aren’t necessarily good for either “side”.

First, it is incredibly obvious that we have elected a president who does not understand the first thing about how government actually functions.  On January 27th, according to the statement, Trump asked Comey to a one on one dinner at the white house.   This alone is bad optics for a President in Trump’s hot seat, but he makes it worse by asking for “loyalty – honest loyalty” from Comey. This indicates that Trump has no functional understanding of the difference between a politician who is elected and a director of the FBI that is in charge of investigations. He cannot legitimately ask for the FBI director’s “loyalty” without placing him in a compromising position. Why would he want that? It makes people ask even more questions than they already are.

Second, Trump was correct in stating that Comey assured him that he was not under investigation personally for any wrongdoing.  Comey makes the important clarification between a “criminal investigation” and a “counter-intelligence investigation”.  One being “to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the USA” and the other being “when the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power”.  We now see that NEITHER TYPE OF INVESTIGATION is currently open on Donald Trump. Comey confirms this stating, “we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him … and at Trump Tower I offered him that assurance.”

Third, we know that Donald Trump’s original reason for firing James Comey was complete garbage. The White House originally tried to co-opt Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein to pen letters blaming the firing on Comey’s mishandling of the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal.  (SOURCE) (for the record I agreed that he should be fired back in October 2016).  Then immediately after this given reason, Trump goes on television saying that he was going to fire Comey anyway because of the “Russia thing” (SOURCE). This already contradicts his previous statement, further contributing to the idea that Trump doesn’t understand how to run an administration at a high level.  Now we find out the real reason he fired him – because Trump was aggravated with James Comey for his refusal to help him clear his name.  In a March 30th phone call, Trump repeatedly told Comey that “we need to get [the] fact out that I am not under investigation” and that “this cloud” (of the investigations) was hurting his ability to work for America. 

This is important — there are two things to take note of here.  1) James Comey mentions that he didn’t want to make a public statement “.. because it would create a duty to correct, should [the fact that they have no current investigation] change.  This makes perfect sense – EXCEPT THAT’S EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT HE DID WITH THE HILLARY CLINTON INVESTIGATION. Which is why he should have been fired right then and there. 2) Trump has a legitimate reason to be frustrated by this, but there are some problems.  First he was barking up the wrong tree.  It’s not the FBI director’s responsibility to help you clear your name – it’s your own.  If Trump were even a reasonably competent communicator he could have done this. Instead he got angry, impatient, contradicted his staff, his communications office, his own previous statements, and further undermined his credibility by firing James Comey.  I mean what a stupid chain of events.

Fourth, President Trump did support his publicly stated reason for firing Flynn as the “[misleading] of the Vice President” and said “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”  In no way is this acceptable for a president to say this to an FBI director.  Although this was an incredibly stupid choice of words, I do not think this is obstruction of justice because it is not an attempt to impede an investigation via intimidation or any other use of status. A president has the authority to inquire about investigations so long as he isn’t roadblocking any part of it.  To be clear – I am inferring this from Comey’s statement “The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President’s request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions” … “The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members – or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them – aware of the President’s request.” This means that the investigation did not encounter any resistance and is isolated to Trump’s asinine conversations with James Comey. This again goes back to Trump’s misunderstanding of the role of the FBI, his ineptitude  as a communicator, and his lack of boundaries.   

Lastly, we need to discuss intellectual honesty yet again.  If you are anyone who isn’t a Democrat — you have got to admit that President Trump is absolutely terrible at managing his administration and his communication with the American people. If you don’t think this by now – you’re not being honest with yourself.  If you think that we wouldn’t have been very angry if President Obama was in this situation you’re fooling yourself. Moreover, we now have a president who simply doesn’t understand the basic mechanics behind the scenes of government.  How can he be an effective president in this kind of mindset? He’s going to have to work INCREDIBLY hard to regain some political capital to push his agenda after this mess. What’s more is that we have a president that has been attacked on almost every level – so much so we have begun to reflexively defend him (which is inappropriate) and, as it turns out, he lied on several MAJOR topics.  At the very least – this lowers his credibility in my eyes. 

If you are a liberal (or someone who viscerally despises Trump), you now have to come to terms with the effects of your exaggerations and premature calls for impeachment. Had you not freaked out and wasted your exasperation on EVERY SINGLE INCONSEQUENTIAL THING so far we might have looked at Trump in a very different light. Had you waited and allowed these things to surface without much outrage we might have agreed that these things are not fitting of a President. His approval rating would steadily decline heading into 2018 and you probably would have won the midterm elections. Instead, you forced people into their camps prematurely, before all of the facts were out, and now it’s going to basically be impossible to get people to move out of their mindsets without some incredible bombshell (which I don’t anticipate).  Trump now looks like he mostly told the truth and things fell short of the “watergate scandal”. You are the reason for this insanely large cavern between people who seem to support Trump and everyone else. You made his poor choices, bad behavior, and a lack of governmental understanding seem somewhat reasonable because of your completely unreasonable and unfounded claims (and I now see that Ben Shapiro has made this same point – I’m not sure if I am happy about that or mad at him for beating me to it lol)

I want this president to do better – as I have stated 22,000 times already.  I don’t want this idiotic war to continue when it isn’t based in reality.

More blogs coming in rapid fire mode. Check back tomorrow