One thing is certain from watching former FBI director James Comey’s testimony Thursday: He really, really likes himself.
Billed by some on the left as “the last honest man in Washington,” which is funny because last year they were calling for his head, Comey did all he could to portray himself as the hero of his own story.
That’s not uncommon in Washington. Actually it’s the norm, but rarely is it so blatant. Comey knows how to play the DC “CYA” game like a pro, but he was lucky he was being questioned by politicians and not people with the ability to think on their feet or time to ask follow-up questions.
There are few things as useless as a public hearing in Congress. Maybe a Pet Rock, but just barely. With each member of the committee limited to only a few minutes, most stuck to their scripts, no matter what Comey said.
It was a rare hearing in that all members stayed the whole time. Not because they care, but because they knew it was live on every network.
Most committee hearings are ghost towns, with members drifting in only when it’s their time to speak. Put a live feed on CSPAN and they’re out of there, but put it on cable news and suddenly senators stay. This was on all the broadcast channels, so nothing short of a nuclear bomb was going to pry those pampered behinds from those seats.
Most were there the whole time, but few were actually interested. They had their scripts and stuck to them.
If there had been a vote to canonize Comey after the hearing, his proposed sainthood would have carried the day. People desperate to come off well on TV rarely make good inquisitors.
But the person who came off the worst was the saint himself. Comey, if you weren’t married to an outcome beforehand, presented an implausible story.
You could tell he was angry about being fired, and this was his chance to inflict some revenge.
But many of his statements, at least to me, left me with more questions than answers.
In his opening statement – the one he delivered, not the one released the day before – Comey disputed White House claims of an FBI in disarray, unhappy with its leader. You could tell this upset the former director.
But if Comey was such a beloved leader, revered by his employees, why did none resign in protest of his firing? No doubt his inner circle was taken aback by his dismissal, but none followed him out the door. If his firing was the injustice the media now wants people to think it was, wouldn’t someone stand up and declare it so?
We also were assured by the media’s anonymous sources that Comey was a copious note-taker, at least when his “dear diary” entries first started to “leak.” But it turns out he didn’t start keeping a journal until Donald Trump won the election. No notes on meetings with President Obama, nothing with former Attorneys General Holder or Lynch, zero on the investigation of Hillary Clinton.
Only his meetings with Trump warranted documenting for posterity or, more likely, to cover his posterior. Pretty weird for a human stenographer.
Those notes – allegedly typed immediately following every interaction with his boss – offer no proof of anything, but they do serve up doubt. Curiously, just enough doubt to feed conspiracy theorists without putting anything that would box him in. Trump saying “I hope you can let this go,” is NOT an order, especially when you realize the President, according to none other than liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz, he could actually order the FBI director to let it go. But if you asked a lawyer to construct a story vague enough to be argued either way, to feed multiple narratives at once, you’d have a hard time creating one better.
But to believe what Comey wants you to believe, you have to believe he’s not at all a man of principle. If, as he said, the president gave him a “directive” to obstruct justice, why’d he keep it secret? Why didn’t he speak up? And if it were a directive, why didn’t the President follow-up on why his “directive” wasn’t adhered to? Leaders, especially in the business world, don’t issue orders and sit back silently as nothing is done on them.
Comey called himself a coward on the issue, but that’s no excuse. If what he claimed actually happened, all he did about it was write a diary entry and tell his inner circle. Neither he nor his top aides resigned or even reported they thought the president had attempted to obstruct justice.
And none ran it up the chain of command in the Justice Department, as the law requires.
Comey claimed this was because he thought Attorney General Jeff Sessions was going to recuse himself, which he did two weeks later. But two weeks is a long time. And nowhere does the law say you don’t have to follow it if there’s a chance someone might recuse themselves. Until the very moment Sessions recused himself he was Comey’s boss on this and all matters.
Add to this the revelation that Comey refused to say publicly which he admitted he’d told the President three times in private – that he’s not under investigation – and you see why he was fired.
Not only did Comey refuse to tell the world the truth of Trump’s not being investigated, he wouldn’t tell the President why he wouldn’t tell the public. Comey’s excuse, that IF things were to change he’d then be obligated to announce he was under investigation doesn’t hold water. His boss gave him an order, he refused that order without explaining why. That’s insubordination by anyone’s definition.
Couple that with the fact that Comey himself was leaking his diaries to the New York Times – which also may have been improper – in the hope of causing the appointment of a special counsel, and the last Boy Scout loses all his merit badges.
James Comey’s testimony was just enough to fan the flames of scandal to keep damaging the president, but not enough to do anything more. No complete declarations of anything, no proof, just…enough. Weird how that works, isn’t it?
If Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to investigate something curious, something that doesn’t add up, Comey’s actions would be a good place to start.