Politics & Policy

The Corner

Why Comey’s Story Still Holds Water

There was certainly a lot to digest in today’s hearing. I agree with most of the points made by my colleagues with one quibble about Kevin’s take, much to my chagrin. I really can’t stand it when Kevin’s cynical misanthropy outshines my own, but I thought the hearings were considerably better than the typical fare. Yes, they were partisan, but nowhere near as bad as the near show-trial nonsense we’ve seen in the recent past (particularly from the House). My memory of the various Fast and Furious, IRS, and Benghazi hearings is a bit of a mish-mash, but the bad taste they left is still worse, years later, than what I’m experiencing today.

And that, in a sense, is damning. During many of the Obama-era hearings, the questioning was often infuriating. The Democrats would salute the heroism and valor of IRS hacks and other miscreants while asking how they persevere during these witch-hunts. Of course, they’d throw in the occasional query about whether President Obama could create a boulder so heavy that even he couldn’t lift it. Meanwhile, the Republicans tended to make interminable speeches about their outrage but forget to hold a line of questioning long enough to make a difference. In today’s hearing, several of the Republican senators did a very fine job asking probing questions that poked holes in Comey’s testimony. It leaves me wondering, “Where were these guys during the Obama years?”

In the broad scheme of things, I think Comey’s account still holds water. Of course, Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, doesn’t agree. But Kasowitz effort to insinuate that Comey’s testimony is simultaneously full of lies but also utterly vindicating simply cannot withstand two seconds of logical contemplation. And I agree with Kevin, that if you think there’s more reason to believe Comey is a liar than Trump, you may want to cut back on the Kool-Aid.

But I agree that the case for obstruction will be hard to make for the reasons Rich lays out over at Politico:

When Trump asked Comey in the Oval Office to lay off his just-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, Comey says he understood this request to be only about Flynn, not about Russia. In a later conversation, as Comey puts it, “The President went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out.”

In other words: Have at it with Manafort, Page, and Stone, et. al. Democrats will have to labor mightily to try build this into an obstruction case.

While this seems right to me, it elides a bit over the fact that Trump did (allegedly) ask Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn. It seems to me there are two possible explanations for this. The Democratic interpretation is surely going to be that Flynn is the key to the whole conspiracy and that’s why Trump wanted him off the hook. I wouldn’t be shocked to see “Flip Flynn!” T-shirts at the next march on Washington.

Meanwhile, the White House interpretation is that Trump likes Flynn and is loyal to him. Trump just thinks he’s a “good guy!” — and the president felt bad that he had just fired him. Flynn has suffered enough. Etc.

That’s certainly plausible, though as Kevin intimates, why you would expect anyone but the faithful to take Trump’s word for it is beyond me. Moreover, you have to think Manafort, Page, and Stone wish the president’s loyalty were more widely distributed. And who knows what those guys are apt to do if they feel they’ve been thrown under the bus?

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More