It seems odd that Republican lawmakers would release James Comey’s prepared remarks the day before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but they did. You can find them here.
As I read through it all, I came away with some thoughts about the contents and three things stuck out more than anything:
1. Trump has no clue how government works – Trump apparently still thinks he can behave like a real estate developer where dinners and personal phone calls to cajole, wink at, and glad handle others is an appropriate way to conduct business. Trump’s methods are crass, considering the sensitivity of what they were discussing and the topics at hand. The FBI Director is supposed to be an independent position, and Trump’s demand for loyalty from Comey just reveals a complete lack of understanding of how particular government roles work.
2. It appears Trump fired Comey for not saying in public that Trump was not under investigation – If you notice the later conversations, it seems Trump expected Comey to tell the world Trump was not under investigation. I don’t understand the President’s position here. Nobody ever said he was personally under investigation. The FBI is conducting a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal probe (yet). It came off as paranoia along with persecution complex. Any clouds Trump felt were getting in the way of doing his work were the result of his actions and behavior, not Comey.
3. There is no smoking gun – For anybody who was hoping for the “AHA!” moment, they’d better lower their expectations. Again, Trump comes off as the slimy real estate guy who is trying sell you swampland in Florida, but not somebody who is attempting to throw an investigation off track or trying to obstruct justice.
President Trump, should he continue to behave this way throughout his presidency, will continue to cause problems for himself. He’s not selling space in a high-rise office building. I have no doubt there have been people who warned him against the kind of salesman routine he tried against Comey but since when does Trump listen to anybody?
I’m sure we’ll learn a whole lot more specifics about these conversations during Comey’s testimony but as it stands now, anybody who was holding out hope it would lead to those articles of impeachment getting drafted will be disappointed.