“A plague on both your houses,” Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet. While the Trump-Comey drama is not one of star-crossed lovers—indeed, there is little love to go around—the phrase is apt. Neither Trump nor Comey comes out of the Senate committee hearing yesterday with full credibility intact.
There is no hero here, but there was enough detail offered to make the plague comment applicable.
First, James Comey.
What to think of him? People who know him well say he is a man of integrity. If that’s so, why did he go before the public last July, lay out all the reasons why Hillary Clinton ought to be prosecuted, and then decline to do so?
He says now it was due to the problem he perceived with Loretta Lynch, reigning attorney general at the time, who told him to tone down the Hillary investigation and who met with Bill Clinton on that infamous airport tarmac while the investigation was going on.
Somehow, in Comey’s mind, to maintain the FBI’s independence, he had to drop the Hillary “matter” (the word Lynch wanted him to use publicly rather than investigation).
Democrats loved him in July.
Then in October, the dreaded October Surprise surfaced when he announced the investigation was opened again due to new information. Democrats squealed, Hillary lost, and they and she have used that incident to prop up the accusation that Comey lost the election for her.
Republicans loved him in October.
Once Trump took office, the Russian influence investigation began to circulate in the liberal media: the newest reason offered as to why Hillary lost. Tensions rose between Trump and Comey over that. Eventually, Trump fired Comey.
Democrats rejoiced over that, hoping it meant the FBI was on to something about Trump and Russia. Comey’s testimony, they enthused, would bring him down for good.
After yesterday’s revelations, their enthusiasm has dampened. The Russia allegations thus far cannot be tied to Trump or his top campaign officials. Gloom descends on Democrat headquarters.
Comey made it clear in his testimony that Russia definitely did try to interfere with the election, but he also made it clear that the investigation couldn’t connect anything to Trump (except for the ongoing Mike Flynn dramedy) and no votes were tampered with. The tally was accurate.
Of course, most Americans probably came to that conclusion long ago.
Now for the Trump side of the plague on both houses.
While firing Comey was his right as president, it was outstandingly foolish, and Trump has become adept at doing outstandingly foolish things, thereby making everything worse for himself.
Rather than abide by the official explanation for why Comey was fired—one that came from the adults in his administration—he opted instead to have an interview with NBC in which he said the firing had to do with the Russia probe.
All that accomplished was the appointment of a special counsel to look into all these matters. Again, the administration adults came out with a statement that declared this a good step in that it would finally put to rest the accusations.
Trump couldn’t let that stand. He tweeted that the appointment of the special counsel was an outrage, calling it “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” Next time, maybe you shouldn’t be so restrained, Mr. President. Use some hyperbole instead.
Not settling for stirring the pot with that one, he then offered this tantalizing tidbit:
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
Comey commented yesterday in the hearing, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes!” He believes they will back up his accusations of what Trump said to him in their meetings.
So, now we have a special counsel, primarily because Trump couldn’t leave things alone and had to vent like a juvenile who wants the last word.
Comey was not reticent with his view on Trump’s honesty. In the hearing, he proclaimed that Trump is a liar, and that he took extensive notes on their conversations in order to document what Trump said.
The first major accusation is that Trump cleared the room of everyone else one day except for him and Comey, and then proceeded to urge Comey to end the Flynn investigation because Flynn is a good man. Comey says he didn’t follow that presidential wish.
While that doesn’t rise to the level of obstruction of justice, it still reeks of an attempt to unduly influence the course of an investigation. This may be the way Trump has operated in his business, but that’s not what’s expected in the Oval Office.
The second accusation is that Trump wanted a pledge of loyalty from Comey. The FBI is supposed to be independent in its investigations, not bowing to whatever a president wants. What kind of loyalty did Trump mean? Do whatever he’s told?
Trump’s lawyer came out later and stated that Trump categorically denies those accusations. They never happened, he says. Comey is making it all up.
Well, Comey was under oath. If it is discovered that indeed he is making it all up, he will be subject to prosecution. Does anyone really think he’s opening himself up to that?
Trump’s denial is not under oath. It’s simply a denial.
Who to believe? Is this merely a “he said, no, he said” quandary that has no resolution?
I can’t say that I have complete confidence in Comey’s integrity, and he certainly hasn’t displayed honor in all his actions. But then there’s Trump.
Does anyone recall how blatantly Trump lied during the campaign season? How he threw out whatever hints of scandal against his opponents that crossed his mind? How he insulted everyone running against him for the nomination?
If you have no problem with Trump’s history of insinuations, hints, and outright falsehoods to get what he wants, I’m not sure what I can say at this point that will make a difference.
- Trump didn’t obstruct justice in the legal sense. There is nothing there for Democrats.
- The Russia probe is probably a dead end. Democrats and the liberal media are going to have to find a new narrative.
- Comey hasn’t exactly distinguished himself in his actions. He did leak some of his comments about Trump, he allowed Lynch to derail the Hillary investigation, and he never stood up to Trump when asked to do things he thought were wrong.
- An investigation of Loretta Lynch is needed; did she obstruct justice?
- Trump’s honesty and integrity have every reason to be questioned.
Shakespeare was right: “A plague on both your houses.”