Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Comey Hearing

We hope you were able to watch the public testimony of former FBI Director James Comey in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee (we had the live stream up here while it was on). If not, here are some of our main takeaways, which we're excerpting from Jane Timm's liveblogging at NBC News, Ryan Reilly at HuffPo, and Kerry Eleveld and Joan McCarter at Daily Kos:

-- Comey was concerned about Donald "Rump" Trump lying about their interactions:
Comey emphasized that he documented conversations with President Donald Trump out of concern that Trump would later try to defame him personally or impugn the FBI’s independence. 
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. asks Comey why he initially decided to document his conversations with President Trump. 
“I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of the meeting and it led me to document it,” Comey said.
-- Following his firing, Comey had a friend (Columbia University law professor Dan Richman) leak contents of his memo on meetings with Rump in hopes of getting a special counsel appointed:
Days after the president suggested he has secret recordings of Oval Office conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, the former FBI director said under oath that he woke up in the middle of the night and decided to orchestrate a leak about his memos on meetings with the president. 
"I asked a friend of mine to share the content of a memo with the reporter, I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel," Comey said.

-- Comey refused to say in open session whether Rump himself colluded with Russia, a question Metternich of the Ozarks Sen. Tom "Ear to Ear" Cotton (R- Trump's Pocket) was foolish enough to ask (oops!):
Asked by Sen. Tom Cotton if he believed the president was colluding with Russia during his campaign, Comey declined to answer in an unclassified setting.  

-- Sen. John "Walnuts" McCain is showing signs of mental impairment (eg., calling Comey "President Comey") and Clinton Derangement Syndrome:
Sen. John McCain spent a long and confusing seven minutes trying to suggest the FBI has a double standard because they weren't investigating Hillary Clinton while examining Russia's interference in the 2016 election.  
Trump campaign aides had repeated contact with Russian officials, and are at the center of the investigation; there is no evidence or even reports Clinton's aides or allies did the same.
-- Earlier in his testimony, Comey reacted to Rump and White House efforts to defame him:
Former FBI Director James Comey said Thursday that the White House had lied and defamed him and the FBI by saying he had lost the faith of bureau. 
Speaking before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey said the Donald Trump administration chose to “defame me” and the FBI by saying the bureau was in chaos and that he had lost FBI employees’ trust. 
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey said.  
-- Comey indicated that evil elf and Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was in a "problematic" position regarding sharing of information:
Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic. And so we were convinced — and in fact, I think we'd already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself -- that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. And that turned out to be the case.
-- Comey says Vice President Mike "Dense" Pence was aware of Michael Flynn's Russian connections very early on:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) just pulled Vice President Mike Pence into the heart of the Russia investigation, asking former FBI Director James Comey whether Pence was aware of the concerns about Mike Flynn's Russia connections both prior to and during his brief tenure in the administration—that is during the transition. Which Mike Pence directed. 
Comey: "My understanding is that he was." 
That undermines Pence's claim that he was totally ignorant of Pence's Russia ties and that Flynn had lied to him about it. That supposed lie, remember, was the justification Trump gave for firing Flynn. 
-- Ultra- right Idaho Sen. James Risch (R- Trump's Pocket) thought he was pretty clever focusing on Rump's use of the word "hope," as in "I hope you can let this go," implying it didn't amount to an order and therefore wasn't obstruction of justice. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) had a perfect rejoinder:

The questioning continues this afternoon in a classified hearing in which the more sensitive questions will be asked and presumably answered.

BONUS:  Steve Benen has his own summary.


DivaNewYork said...

I also liked the way he said farewell to his brethren in the FBI, alluding to the way he was unceremoniously fired. May be a small thing, but showed loyalty and friendship to his staff. Workplace respect is rather thin lately.

W. Hackwhacker said...

You're right. Contrasting that with the sleazy "loyalty" Rump was requesting, the loyalty Comey inspires from his former brethren is real and enduring -- because it's based on mutual respect and respect for the law.

Anonymous said...

I supported Sen. Harris' campaign - so proud. P.E.C.

W. Hackwhacker said...

Good!! Seeing the difference between the slick, sleazy Republicans on the panel and the (mostly) bright Dems made us proud as well! Sen. Harris set up a number of questions she knew Comey would have to defer to closed session, so it enhanced the sense that there was more story to be told!