Editor’s Note: first of all, I’d like to apologize that this post is getting to you so late; there’s a lot of source material to go through this time and I’ve been suffering from a summer head-cold and a self-induced case of “Mad OnlineTM” that have both put me behind schedule this past week. Furthermore, as many of you are no doubt aware, there has been a targeted “multiple shooting” against Republican lawmakers near the US capital yesterday morning and I’m obviously devoting a certain amount of my energy and attention to observing that situation. Finally of course, I spent most of the previous afternoon watching the farcical spectacle of a US Attorney General admitting that he was unable to testify on his own feelings about something his boss had done in public; which was without a question, a colossal goddamn waste of time.
As such, we’re going to skip the long intro this time and dive right in to examining what may well be the most historically significant public testimony in the history of the US Senate as part of what is certainly starting to look like the biggest public political scandal in the history of the United States – James Comey’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing:
Dancing With the Devil in Broad Daylight: Untangling Comey’s Testimony
When I originally sat down to watch James Comey’s testimony before the US Senate Intelligence Committee last Thursday morning I had already read his written remarks released before the hearing and while I was intrigued by the depth and meticulous nature of the former FBI Director’s statement, I was still prepared for an all too familiar sideshow I have come to call “ The Jim Comey Experience” – a lot of stern words about the importance of transparency, numerous instances of questionable judgement that happen to always favor the status quo and a whole lotta sizzle, but ultimately no steak.
As those of you who watched the hearing already know however, the former FBI director’s question and answer period was anything but “classic Comey” and over the course of roughly three hours that were both as riveting and utterly shocking as anything served up by the Watergate hearings; James Comey “settled all family business” on his way out of Dodge. In what can only be fairly described as unprecedented testimony, Comey touched on the “Russiagate” investigation, the likelihood that US swine emperor Trump was actively attempting to obstruct justice when he fired the former FBI director in May and cautiously accused not one, but two US Attorney Generals of openly unethical behavior – shockingly, James Comey let the bodies hit the floor.
Unfortunately, along with the unprecedented spectacle of a former-FBI Director essentially confirming the long-held belief among the American public that virtually everyone in government (regardless of political affiliation) is a corrupt, self-serving lap dog who’ll break every written rule of law to protect their position in the DC power structure, the US proletariat was also subjected to a truly unprecedented level of spin-doctoring about the hearing from both sides of the nation’s traditional political divide. As this entire drama continues to shake out into what is now certainly fair to call the “Watergate” of our time, the fact that literally everyone involved in the whole situation has lied or is still lying about various aspects of the now enormous scandal, only serves to make the entire issue even more partisan, confusing and emotionally charged.
I’ve chosen to include this section of our discussion at the beginning because I know some readers out there are both confused as to who is telling the truth about Comey’s testimony (almost nobody in corporate media, unsurprisingly) and angry that a man whose former day job was convincing your developmentally challenged cousin that he’s actually a member of ISIS, is being openly lionized as a hero by a mainstream liberal media machine you already know does not have your best interests at heart. I’d like to assure you right now that I do not believe that former FBI Director James Comey is a hero; furthermore I have never bought into the new Red Scare and I still haven’t seen anywhere near enough actual evidence to prove that either of the two core Democratic Party accusations that form “Russiagate” are true. Despite having little love for Herr Donald, his monstrous government and the shitheads that form Republican party; it would be virtually impossible for anyone who has read my writing about the Democratic Party, their openly rigged 2016 nomination contest and the staggering hypocrisy of American liberalism in general to believe I’m a neoliberal shill, lying to you on behalf of the establishment.
Despite all this however, in my capacity as an independent analyst I have ultimately felt obligated to untangle this historically significant moment and I have indeed already written lengthy articles explaining why swine emperor Trump was almost certainly trying to obstruct justice when he fired Comey; as well as multiple discussions about why it is not even remotely necessary for Russiagate to be true for our blatantly criminal liar-in-chief to eventually go down. The problem at this point is clearly no longer a question of the president’s guilt or innocence but rather the existence of political will within the Republican Party (who hold all the cards here) to remove Trump from power. Now matter how hard shameless propagandists have tried to spin the hearing, there were three incredibly important points former FBI Director Comey talked about (under oath) in front of the rolling cameras, and absolutely none of them make either side of the political establishment in America look very trustworthy. Let’s talk about each of those three issues with an eye towards placing them in the context of the ongoing “Russiagate” farce and the distinct likelihood that Trump was actively trying to obstruct the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Mike Flynn (at least) – I’ll also do my best to address some of the more popular talking points emerging from the raging torrent of bullshit Republicans are throwing out to muddy up the waters and protect President Trump from what are essentially numerous self-inflicted wounds:
- Trumpus Obstructus & the Investigation of Michael Flynn
Without question the most important thing you need to know about James Comey’s June 8th testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee is that while he refused to directly say if he felt Trump was guilty of obstructing justice, his statements and notes about his meetings with the president clearly laid out an incredibly strong legal argument that Donny “Tiny Hands” is absolutely guilty of obstructing justice. Don’t take my word for it, numerous legal experts (including a former US Attorney, a former U.S. Deputy Solicitor General and a former Assistant Attorney General) have all analyzed Comey’s testimony and said that the evidence available at least warrants officially looking into whether or not Trump attempted to obstruct justice by interfering in the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn; an investigation the former FBI Director confirmed remains ongoing while politely pointing out that it was now up to former FBI director and current special counsel in charge of the investigation Bob Mueller “to sort that out.“
That last little detail is important because many of Trump’s most partisan defenders have seized on the fact that Comey declined to offer his opinion on possible obstruction of justice as “evidence” that the president didn’t in fact attempt to obstruct justice. This is a fairly ludicrous argument however because Mueller is indeed now in change of the investigation and would find himself in a very awkward position if Comey had answered the question with a simple “yes.” Furthermore we can safely assume that if it wasn’t a question of personal courtesy towards fellow FBI man and longtime personal friend Mueller, there’s literally no chance in hell Jim Comey would have answered that question with a “no” simply because of all the clues he provided in other parts of his testimony.
When the recently fired FBI Director revealed that he released notes about his conversations with Donald Trump through a close friend because he “thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel” any objective observer can reasonably infer that he obviously believed Trump had done something wrong. Mr. Comey also revealed that he had purposely ensured that the memos he wrote about his meetings with Trump contained no classified information so they could potentially be shared “within FBI and government” which strongly implies he thought they might be part of a future investigation. Astoundingly, the former FBI director even noted (while under oath) that taking such notes was actually not a normal procedure and that he’d only done so because he anticipated Trump might lie about the meetings; specifically adding “I knew that there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI.”
Speaking of Comey’s memos, let’s talk about the most damning note; in which Comey laid out in excruciating detail a February 14th, 2017 meeting in the Oval Office during which Trump dismissed everyone else (including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior advisor Jared Kushner) before telling the then FBI Director “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.” Still under oath, Comey then took the extraordinary step of clarifying that he took the president’s statement “as a direction” before adding “I mean, this is the president of the United States, with me alone, saying, ‘I hope’ this. I took it as this is what he wants me to do.” Far from the inexperienced, bumbling fool Trump apologists have painted the president out to be, Comey’s account exposes an extremely clear picture of a shady official knowingly applying inappropriate pressure against a subordinate to close a (potentially) criminal investigation into Trump’s own former National Security Advisor and campaign surrogate Mike Flynn.
As if all that weren’t damaging enough for swine emperor Trump however, former FBI Director Comey also publicly called the president a liar, flatly stated that Trump had directly requested his loyalty (leading him to feel that Trump wanted “something in exchange” for keeping him on as FBI director) and testified that he believed he was fired due to his handling of the ongoing FBI “Russiagate” investigation because the President himself had said so on national TV; again, all during an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing and while under oath. He even managed to turn several questions into an opportunity to articulate his belief that Trump’s desire to see the investigation into Flynn dropped would have a potentially chilling effect on the Bureau’s ability to do it’s job as part of the probe (which is textbook obstruction) and cryptically offer that there’s always a possibility any investigation might expose unrelated crimes; something I’ve written about repeatedly while discussing why the “Giant Russia Theory” doesn’t have to be true for the numerous Trump-Russia investigations to represent a very real problem for the president and his inner circle.
The bottom line here is that contrary to farcical rhetoric from sycophants and apologists, James Comey’s testimony doesn’t exonerate Trump but rather completely exposes the American liar-in-chief while laying out a paint-by-numbers obstruction of justice case that is utterly impossible for any impartial observers (as well as special counsel Robert Mueller) to miss; and please be reminded that I’m saying this as someone who simply isn’t all that fucking fond of James Comey or any other former FBI Director for that matter.
Spin Cycle: Hope, Feelings & the Archbishop of Canterbury
The fact that Comey’s testimony was so clear and that his recall was so meticulous as to make it possible for even a casual or layman observer to clearly infer that Trump did something very wrong, has created an “unfortunate” trap for Trump’s lawyers, spin-doctors and defenders in the Republican party; it is virtually impossible to defend Herr Donald from accusations that he at least attempted to obstruct justice without lying, attacking the former-FBI Director as a liar (a legally questionable position) or carefully cherry-picking Comey’s testimony for unrelated accusations and side-tracking (although potentially true) conspiracies that have little to do with the president or the matter at hand. While it would be virtually impossible (and likely, psychologically damaging) to try and debunk every aspect of the entire staggering mountain of bullshit Trump apologists have erected to hide his guilt – I’d like to take a moment to quickly destroy some of the more common excuses observers have offered up to me personally, in an effort protect the swine emperor:
A ) “James Comey is a leaker“ – this is far and away the most easily debunked talking point being bandied about by some of the most loathsome Trumpists in existence because the simple truth is that it may not be accurate, even if it were accurate it wouldn’t change a goddamn thing about what Comey said and ultimately, it’s completely unrelated to whether or not Trump attempted to obstruct justice in the investigation into his former National Security advisor Michael Flynn. Shitheel apologists can spend all day debating whether or not Comey had a right to share his personal, unclassified notes about meetings with the president through an intermediary but at the end of the day it’s meaningless because Trump already fired the former FBI Director (before the notes were “leaked” might I add) and as such can’t really do a whole fuck lot about it. As many of the very same people equivocating for President Bullshit now have stated numerous times in regards to the Clinton email investigation and the Podesta email leaks – the source of the information is completely fucking irrelevant if the information itself is true.
B ) “James Comey is a liar“ – while I think it’s remarkably easy to make the argument that there is no way in hell Comey would lie under oath about potentially-recorded conversations with the President of the United States, I can’t objectively say that any sufficiently high-level member of the FBI is totally honest, all of the time; after all, Jim Comey’s testimony in the Apple IPhone hearing (as part of the San Bernardino shooting investigation) can only be described as “factually inaccurate” and that’s being pretty charitable. Ultimately however I think it’s only fair to point out that as an experienced prosecutor with hundreds of trials under his belt, a former US Attorney and the former Director of the FBI, it would border on completely fucking impossible to find anyone in Washington considered more credible in the eyes of a judge (or the government) than Jim Comey. Unless Donny “Tiny Hands” Trump does indeed have recordings of his conversations with Jim Comey, it’s a question of the former FBI Director’s word against that of a man who is at this point literally internationally famous for lying and has a long track record of actually lying under oath; I don’t think it takes much of a genius to figure out who’s going to win that contest in the eyes of the relevant authorities. Finally I should point out that everything Comey said about Trump’s actions surrounding the Flynn investigation lines up fairly closely with the testimony of other federal prosecutors the swine emperor has fired and yes, this pattern of obstructive behavior would be legally admissible evidence that the former FBI Director is probably telling the truth.
C ) “This is about Comey’s feelings, there are no facts proving Trump obstructed justice” – this absurdist little bit of “jailhouse lawyering” featured prominently on social media in the first few days after Comey’s testimony and clearly demonstrates that a great percentage of Twitter pundits know virtually nothing about the US legal system. As we’ve previously discussed, Comey is a former US attorney and the most recent Director of the FBI and as such his “feelings” about the legal ramifications of a given interaction actually do carry quite a great deal of weight; after all, Comey spent almost a decade deciding whether or not to prosecute literally thousands of cases on behalf of the government. Furthermore, I can only assume most Trump apologists will distinctly remember that James Comey’s opinion that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Hillary Clinton was the basis of the Justice Department’s farcical decision to close the Clinton private email server investigation. Finally of course all of this is all at least somewhat irrelevant because ultimately the decision whether or not to merely investigate Donald Trump for possible obstruction of justice comes down to one man (special counsel Robert Mueller) and something tells me that he’s a little more inclined to trust Comey’s feelings about the law than your average Trump supporter might be.
D ) “Trump was didn’t mean to obstruct justice; nobody has ever been charged for hoping something would happen” – this is another highly specious argument commonly bandied about by self-styled intellectuals in the pro-Trump and “Alt-Right” social media communities, but this particular line of bullshit has actually managed to attract some pretty high profile adherents. Unfortunately for Grassley and Pepe Nation however, it simply isn’t true; Trump’s use of the word hope can indeed be the basis for an obstruction of justice charge and in fact, one can reasonably argue that in his interactions with POTUS, the former FBI Director had no reasonable choice but to interpret the phrase “I hope you can let this go” as a direct order. Furthermore, since the relevant statute of US law doesn’t actually require there be a direct order to quash the investigation in order to charge Trump with obstruction of justice anyway, I’m starting to wonder if literally everyone who supports or works for Herr Donald flunked out of law school. Clearly most Trump propagandists also flunked history (classical disciplines matter kids) because as Comey himself referenced in the hearing, this precise situation has famously come up before – in 1170, when King Richard II’s casually stated and now infamous wish that someone would “rid him”of Thomas Becket purportedly lead to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s murder at the hands of Richard’s knights. I guess none of the outwardly devout Christian members of the Trump administration have ever heard about it.
E ) “Trump is too stupid or too naive in the ways of Washington to obstruct justice” – with virtually all other avenues of defense closed off to them, this final patently absurd argument actually appears to be the major rallying point around which the increasingly nervous Republican Party is mounting it’s notably tepid defense of swine emperor Trump. The first problem with this staggeringly inept excuse is that virtually all available evidence suggests that it’s simply not true; time and time again, Trump acted like a man who was not only trying to quash the FBI investigation into Flynn but actively knew he was doing so throughout the process. Furthermore, the president’s case is once again drastically undermined by reports that he also asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to intervene with Comey and get the FBI to back off the Flynn investigation; after (stop me if you’ve heard this before) asking everyone else to leave the room first. Perhaps more glaring however, is even if one were to (unwisely) accept this cowardly “cock and bull story” at face value; you’re left with the staggering realization that anyone as fucking gormless as Trump would have to be for the whole thing to be true, objectively has no goddamn business being the President of the United States. As we’ve already discussed in both this and previous articles, the decision on whether or not to impeach (or otherwise remove) Trump is more about pressure on the Republican Party (who hold all the cards) to act than Trump’s literal guilt or innocence from a legal perspective; stepping out in front of the world and saying “actually the President is just a goddamn idiot” probably isn’t going to reduce public pressure on the GOP to depose the swine emperor in any significant way – actually, it might even increase it.
That essentially wraps up our review of the portion of James Comey’s June 8th testimony before the Senate Intelligence committee that deals specifically with obstruction of justice and hopefully by now you’re fairly clear on why there are absolutely enough good reasons to justify special counsel Mueller’s reported decision to open up an obstruction of justice investigation into President (for now) Donald Trump. At this point, I imagine that quite a few people reading this could use a little break to follow the links and process the information provided in this essay so I’m going to end part one here. In part two of this essay, we’ll be looking at why Comey’s dramatic statements about Russian hacking don’t actually represent new information (and are based on flawed work by an outside private analysis company) and the former FBI Director’s shocking feelings about the role seemingly unethical behavior by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch played in the Hillary Clinton private email server investigation.
To be continued in “Dead Man Talking: Comey Finally Delivers Part 2” – coming soon..
- Nina Illingworth
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