Comey those of us with any intelligence could see and predict the game of chess that was and continues to be played with your life.
I would stand behind Comey, it is my belief that he is telling the truth.
James Comey wants you to know a few things. First and foremost, that Donald Trump is a liar. Second, that Russia attacked the United States during the 2016 election, and will do so again. Third, that you really shouldn’t trash the reputation of James Comey and the FBI without expecting some payback.
Trump’s Russian web may be a complicated contraption, but the firing of Comey is a much simpler matter.
Before Comey spoke, it seemed likely that firing the FBI director was one of Trump’s poorer decisions. By the time the hearing was over, that was beyond doubt
In a devastating opening statement, delivered without notes, Comey explained how confused he was. After all, Trump had told him he was doing a great job and wanted him to stay. Then Trump fired him, either for the Russia investigation (as Trump said), or for the Clinton emails (as the Justice department said), or simply for bad management.
It was that last smack to the face that gave Comey all the motive he needed to go public. “Those were lies, plain and simple,” he told the senators and the world. “And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.”
More in sorrow and confusion, Comey proceeded to eviscerate his former boss.
Why did he write his now historic memos documenting each interaction with Trump? “I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document,” he explained. “I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution, and the independence of our investigative function.”
We’re talking about the president of the United States here. In front of a bunch of Republican senators whose heads exploded when they heard that former president Bill Clinton had even met with then attorney general Loretta Lynch. Somehow they seemed much more relaxed hearing about Trump bullying and firing an FBI director who was investigating everyone around him.
Comey wasn’t just talking about obstruction of justice. He was talking about the rule of law and national security under a president who considers all this Russia stuff to be a fabrication of disappointed Democrats and the mainstream media.
“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever,” Comey explained. “The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts … That’s about as unfake as you can possible get. It is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.”
It’s hard to think of one man’s testimony that has brimmed with more blockbuster material than the former FBI director’s calm demolition of the sitting president of the United States.
Yes, there have been more dramatic hearings – when McCarthy hunted Commies, and Fulbright questioned the war in Vietnam. But there’s only one precedent for what Comey did before the Senate intelligence committee, and that’s Watergate.
Make no mistake: Comey’s testimony was effectively the first hearing into what will surely become the impeachment of Donald J Trump. Such proceedings must ultimately take place in the House, but Comey has laid the foundations of the next several years of Trump’s Russian saga.
How can you tell the impeachment machine is warming up? By watching the Republican senators in action.
When faced with the news that their country was under Russian attack, these august members of the world’s greatest deliberative body rushed to defend their most precious possession: not American values, but their very own Donald Trump.
Most of them were primarily concerned to get Comey to say that he wasn’t investigating Trump himself. Some of them insisted that Trump’s obstruction of justice was no big deal because the FBI was such an awesome institution it couldn’t be swayed by a few casual words from a former real estate developer.
Except for the fact that Comey was sitting in front of them as an unemployed civilian, recently fired by Trump for that same Russian saga.
Then there were a handful of Republicans who wanted to talk about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Yes, we’re looking at you, John McCain, the Senate maverick who hates Vladimir Putin but somehow hates Hillary more.
The Republican reaction was as great a curiosity to behold as Trump’s infatuation with Putin’s Russia. As James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, told the Australian press this week: “I have had a very hard time reconciling the threat the Russians pose to the United States with the inexplicably solicitous stance President Trump has taken with respect to Russia.”
We all have had a really hard time with this one. No wonder Clapper also said that Watergate pales in comparison to Trump’s collusion with Russia and the firing of Comey.
And that’s where Trump made his biggest mistake. Because James Comey is an elite athlete of Washington and Donald Trump, well, isn’t.
Comey paces himself, warming up a day early with the release of his written testimony. Then he opens the proceedings with an off-the-cuff slam dunk on Trump’s head.
He uses his team to leak his landmark memos about all those freakish meetings with Trump, knowing they will lead to a special counsel. He can play offense by assassinating Trump’s character. He can play defense by staying safely behind classified information and the integrity of FBI investigations.
And he can fake his opponents far better than they can. “Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes,” he told the good senators in his best boy scout voice. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
Lordy, we all hope there are tapes and memos between now and the end of the Trump era. In the meantime, there are dozens of lines of inquiry to keep Comey’s former FBI employees busy forevermore.
What, for instance, is the point of a back channel using Russian communications, like the one Jared Kushner apparently wanted to set up?
“I’m not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting,” Comey began rather coyly. “But the primary risk is obvious. You spare the Russians the cost and effort to break into our communications channels by using theirs. You make it a whole lot easier for them to capture all of your conversations. Then to use those to the benefit of Russia against the United States.”
And now, with the firing of Comey, Trump has made it a whole lot easier to get himself impeached.
Back in the day, as the 2016 election drew to a close, Hillary Clinton warned the nation about Donald Trump, calling him Putin’s puppet. “No puppet. No puppet,” Trump sputtered. “You’re the puppet.”
As James Comey likes to say, that’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.