Thursday, June 08, 2017

I Heard Comey

By reading his prepared statement and by listening to some of the hearings themselves.  The prepared statement, covering several meetings between Trump and Comey, contains these sentences which Comey attributes to Trump:

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, "He is a good guy and has been through a lot." He repeated that Flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President.
He then said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."


On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as "a cloud" that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to "lift the cloud." 

Comey interpreted those statements by quoting Henry II on the topic of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury:

Maine Sen. Angus King was pressing Comey about how he interpreted phrases President Donald Trump used in a one-on-one February dinner, in which Trump urged Comey to drop the probe into just-fired national security adviser Mike Flynn.
King, an independent, asked Comey if he interpreted language like "I hope" as directives from the President.
"Yes. It kind of rings in my ears as, 'Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?'" Comey said.
Those words, some historical accounts suggest, were interpreted by Henry's men as him wishing for Becket to be killed.
The next month, four knights loyal to Henry tracked Becket down and killed him.
What a pity we don't have video recordings of those meetings.  For instance, did Trump ask what Comey's people could do to "lift the cloud" while was sighing, staring at the ground and nervously wringing a wet hankie?  Or did he go wink-wink-nudge-nudge while talking about that cloud lifting?  Comey's statement strips all those potential nuances and leaves us with just his interpretations of the words themselves.

But in any case the evidence suggests that Trump wanted various investigations to be terminated.

The hearings themselves were not terribly interesting, though John McCain did appear to argue that perhaps Hillary Clinton used Russian connections to orchestrate her own electoral downfall.

That argument differed from the other Republican arguments only in being more bizarre:  All the Republicans I heard tried to obfuscate the issues by drawing our attention to that heinous criminal,  Hillary Clinton, and her crime of having  used a private e-mail server for classified documents while being the secretary of state.  That Comey had recommended no criminal charges for her and that the investigation has been concluded makes no difference in these political games*.


*  Neither does the fact that previous politicians had committed similar blunders and were not investigated on those.