Depending on when you are reading this, Jim Comey may be testifying to Congress right now. Perhaps you live in the glorious future when the sanctimonious blowhard has huffed and puffed and blown CBS ratings into irrelevancy. Here in BC – Before Comey, as future generations will reckon – I know enough to evaluate the Comey testimony to Congress. That’s because the master of Comey-flage released his opening statement to the media 19 hours before his testimony.
Go ahead, read it first. I’ll be here when you get back. I’ll even keep this column short today in case you are wiser than our media overloads and want to keep your Comey-sumption to a Comey-nimum.
Of course, he released his testimony only to Congress. But that is giving it to the media as sure as releasing something into midair is giving it to the floor. Congress is exactly like gravity. It operates to consistently bring things as low as possible. Also, if we had just paid more attention in school we would know there was a superior model.
Comey even prepared for this testimony by strategically leaking many of its key elements to friendly reporters weeks and months ago. This leaves him in the Comey-fortable position of having primed the Congressmen hearing his testimony. After all, what he’s telling them now just confirms reports they have been hearing for weeks and months.
Comey Testimony for Comey’s Conscience
Jim Comey clearly wants history to treat him well. Witness this parenthetical: “(I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)” Why brief Congress on conversational roads not taken? No reason.
Comey documented his interactions with the Bush administration to the hilt. Precisely these memos kept him from gaining the reputation as a rat. Instead he is known as the saint that everyone expects to lead our nation’s friendliest counter-intelligence agency. When raised to that position, he documented very few of his interactions with Obama. This is likely because Obama completely ignored him, which he gives ample evidence of preferring. Still, perhaps a wiser President would have come prepared for Comey to be taking accurate notes. If for no other reason, he was definitely the kid in class who you would always hit up for his notes.
Comey Testimony’s Real Consequence
But history will treat James Comey primarily as a footnote to the Donald Trump Presidency. What the Comey testimony reveals about that main subject is damaging, but not fatal. It shows – through Comey’s eyes, at least – a President unable to observe proper boundaries or to “let this go”. It heavily implies that Comey’s resistance to Trump’s attempts to coopt him is what led to the former’s ouster. On the other hand, it explicitly states that Trump was not personally a target of the Russia investigation while Comey was FBI director.
Perhaps the best advice Trump could have received in this whole mess came not from his neophyte children. They come from Comey himself, “I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.”
Perhaps the best thing Trump could do now is to say, “We are cooperating fully with the investigation and have no further comment at this time.” Of course, that would make his inevitable further comments all the more damaging. I hope he can see his way clear to letting this go.