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Thursday, June 8, 2017

James Comey's Testimony

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I got up early today (PST) to watch James Comey's testimony in its entirety. I then went back to bed and am writing this without the benefit of listening to the pundits. Here is what I think about Comey's testimony.

First of all, I thought Comey was extremely impressive. He came across as professional and honest. In other words, I think he spoke the truth. He didn't attempt to embellish or add anything, and he admitted he could have been wrong about his impressions of what President Trump said to him.

I think Trump's image in the eyes of the public will take a big hit as a result of  Comey's words today. No doubt the President's detractors in the Democratic party and the media will herald today as a decisive victory in their efforts to bring about impeachment. I don't think so.

As I see it, Comey left a lot of room for Trump to say that he did not mean to order Comey to let Michael Flynn of the hook or shut down the Russian investigation. Is expressing a "hope" a way of giving an order? Yes and no but words have legal implications here.

Unless Trump admits everything Comey said was true and that he was indeed trying to force him to close the above two investigations, it becomes one man's word and interpretation of the conversations against the word of the other man. While I believe Comey is speaking the truth, I cannot convict Trump in a legal sense (I am not a lawyer.) If there is no corroborative evidence  (like audiotape) of their conversations, then it is indeed, he said-he said. Comey's notes, of course, should be produced just as police must preserve their notes for court. But even a liar can write down notes to support their lies, so they are not evidence per se.

For the most part, I think the senators on the committee on both sides were trying to get to the truth. The one embarrassment in my eyes was John McCain. It pains me to say it because while I don't care for him as a senator, he is a military hero. I thought his line of questioning  about the Clinton emails was well, embarrassing. I think he really needs to retire.

I even think I can now more accept Comey's rationale for stepping into the role of prosecutor when he made his July announcement  ( and subsequent announcements) on the email case. His testimony today was not very complimentary to Loretta Lynch and her performance. I still think, however, that Comey was wrong in his decision not to prosecute Mrs Clinton though there is no question that he was in a uniquely complex position given that the FBI was investigating a presidential candidate with the election drawing near. It was unprecedented. Nonetheless, Comey laid out a strong case against Mrs Clinton then said there was no case. It was bizarre. In addition, the "interview" of Mrs Clinton was a joke given the manner and circumstances in which it was carried out. For that, I can never excuse Comey.

To sum up, I think Comey badly damaged Trump's public standing, but I don't think he provided a strong case for impeachment. I do think that the President needs to take stock of how he is running things and start getting some good legal advice. Otherwise, he is on  a course to eventual impeachment. It is time to start acting presidential. There are things you can do as president of a business that you cannot do as president of the United States. He needs to understand that and understand it fast.




2 comments:

Squid said...

Comey leaked his memos to his Columbia University Professor with the instruction to give the information to the NYT. In my opinion, the conversation between Trump and Comey is privileged and should not be shared, especially in a leak. Comey is the leaker.
Loretta Lynch told Comey to call the Hillary Clinton investigation and call it a "Matter". In my opinion, this sounds like obstruction of justice. Comey should have taken this to Congress or the Assistant Director of the FBI. He did not.
If Comey had problems with Trump's statement to "let this go" on Flynn, he should have told the President that he was uncomfortable, or go to Congress or the Deputy Director of the FBI. He did not.

To impeach President Trump, there must be a crime. There is no crime.

The President of the US has a Constitutional right to fire the Director of the FBI, for any reason or no reason at all. The President stop any investigation or create an investigation if he/she wishes, by Constitutional right. The President can pardon Flynn if he wishes, at any time. None of these acts are grounds for impeachment.

Squid

Anonymous said...

Respect your views on this. You didn't go the all partisan as many pundits have been doing.

David Frum wrote a good article that covers Squid's point and there is a blurb at the end why he may not have found a good lawyer.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-five-lines-of-defense-against-comeyand-why-they-failed/529743/

Here is the line about hiring a lawyer:

Michael Isikioff of Yahoo News reported that four top D.C. lawyers had refused to handle Trump’s defense.

“The concerns were, ‘The guy won’t pay and he won’t listen,’” said one lawyer close to the White House who is familiar with some of the discussions between the firms and the administration, as well as deliberations within the firms themselves.