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.

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