The moment everyone has been waiting for has come and gone. James Comey today testified to the Senate Intelligence committee regarding the nature of his firing as head of the FBI. Going in, everyone presumed that Comey would reveal damaging evidence to confirm President Trump obstructed justice – and subsequently lead to his impeachment.
At the beginning of the questioning, Comey was asked whether or not he was sure Russia intervened in the 2016 US presidential election. He confirmed this to be the case, and even said it was certain that Russia hacked the DNC on behalf of WikiLeaks. To this day there is no definitive evidence to validate these claims. In all likelihood Russia did try to influence the election, but the extent to which this occurred is not yet known. Comey did however confirm that there is no evidence that Russian hacking affected the vote count.
Afterwards, what emerged was nothing ground breaking regarding Trump and the possibility of obstructing justice. Comey again reiterated that Trump hoped he would let the investigation into Michael Flynn go. Despite not being directly ordered to end the investigation, Comey said that he interpreted this remark as a command. If true, this suggests that Comey was awestruck or was made nervous by the president – and would explain why he would misinterpret his hopeful remark as a direct order. Comey himself would not admit if this was obstruction of justice or not, and differed to other parties to make that determination. The former director also indicated that he did not inform the president that his request was inappropriate and unorthodox – knowing full well that Trump was a new comer to the complexities of high level Washington politics.
Many in the Democratic camp are insinuating Trump’s comments point to obstruction of justice. Those on the Republican side are affirming that the remarks by the president were merely an expression of concern for his friend Michael Flynn, and do not qualify as an abuse of power. It looks as though an obstruction of justice charge to lay the basis for impeachment will not be legitimacy pursued.
Comey said he took notes every time he spoke to Trump – an action he never performed with any other president or high ranking official. This raises issues regarding Comey’s relationship with Trump, and why he felt the need to transcribe their conversations. The mainstream media is spinning this revelation as a tactful act which pre-emptively considered Trump’s nature as an inherit liar.
Realistically, Comey’s alleged actions were likely the result of his own oppositional standing toward the Trump camp. Comey has his own embedded deep state interests which do not align with Trump, so naturally he would be inclined to collect potentially damaging information for the sake of harming his presidency. Keep in mind, this is purely speculation on my part.
These memos of course were leaked to the media after he was fired. Comey said he revealed the memos to a friend, who then leaked the information to the media. This is important to note because it establishes Comey himself as culpable in leaking private and unconfirmed information to intentionally undermine the Trump administration. It also raises ethical questions regarding whether or not Comey, as a private citizen, should have leaked out memos that were technically under FBI jurisdiction. He claims to have leaked the information in order to catalyze the future appointment of a special council into the matter.
Comey’s actions also raises suspicion as to why he would wait to leak the memos after he was fired, and not before; and why he would leak them to the media instead of an appropriate law enforcement source.
Comey also confirmed that he did not notify the president that he was under investigation. He went insofar to say that when he saw a New York Times report claiming Trump was under investigation, he became perplexed and parsed over the entire FBI apparatus to make sure that this was not the case. He also refuted media claims that Trump surrogates were being directly investigated for having ties to Russian entities during the election. Despite this, Comey did not feel it necessary to make a public statement to renounce the claims being made in the media – one of the actions which may have contributed to his firing. A lack of an investigation calls into question why and how the media would have gotten the impression that Trump and his surrogates were being directly investigated.
In a surprising turn of events, Comey expressed some illuminating information regarding the Clinton email scandal. He testified under oath that then attorney general, Lorretta Lynch, ordered him to change his language when discussing the probe to the public – wanting him to refer to it as a ‘matter’ instead of an ‘investigation’. Because this occurred during an election cycle, it would have likely influenced voter perception.
Even more astoundingly, Comey confirmed that his recommendation to not prosecute the Hilary Clinton was influenced by Bill Clinton and Loretta lynches’ now famous tarmac meeting. This confirms what was previously speculated. In a major conflict of interest, the Obama Justice Department colluded with law enforcement in order to preserve the legitimacy of their party’s candidate. After this revelation, the matter will likely be re-opened.
Nothing definitive can be taken away from this testimony which implicates Trump. Headlines today read: ‘Trump Lied’, in reference to his administrations character assassination of Comey. News outlets continue to harp on calls for obstruction of justice; and also insinuate Comey’s mistrust of Trump as an indication of the president’s many character flaws. Media outlets were framing the lead up to this event as Trump’s Waterloo moment. Instead, no new harmful revelations were incurred upon him. Ironically, new questions have instead emerged regarding the Clinton email probe.
American markets today remained on a study climb, indicating the economic forecast continues to revolve around the Trump agenda. Healthcare reform and tax cuts are more imminent now that this particular episode has passed.