The Corner

Politics & Policy

Comey’s Testimony

He’s a good witness, in part because he’s so practiced at this. A few points:

‐I’ve wondered why he didn’t push back more against Trump if he thought things the president asked him to do or not to do were so inappropriate, but his explanation — he just wanted to get out of the situations as quickly and diplomatically as possible — seems credible to me; that’s the way human beings react in real time.

‐We heard this morning about what a shrewd operator Comey is — deliberately not including any classified material in his memos about his interactions with Trump so they could be spread around as necessary, getting a friend at Columbia to leak their contents to the press after his firing to try to force the appointment of a special counsel. As a practical matter and the merits aside, this was a reason not to fire him like Trump did — Comey knows how to fight back bureaucratically and in the media.

‐Comey’s evaluation of Trump’s character is damning, but not anything we didn’t know. Still, it’s amazing to hear a former FBI director call a president of the United States a liar.

‐The legal case against Trump has unavoidable factual holes, and Senators Risch, Rubio, and Lankford were adept in pointing them out. Trump only expressed a hope regarding Comey dropping the Flynn matter, and never followed up about it; the president has the authority to order the opening or closing of any investigation (so long as his motive isn’t corrupt); Trump didn’t object to the Russia probe looking into the conduct of his associates; the only ask Trump ever made regarding the broader Russia probe was that Comey say publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation.

‐Finally, Tom Cotton made a telling point at the end, noting how Comey threatened to resign his Justice Department position over a dispute over surveillance policy in 2004, but despite how disturbing he found Trump’s conduct, never threatened to resign over it.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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