Some people were hoping for big-time fireworks yesterday during former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate Intelligence Committee testimony. Alas, nothing explosive took place, and there were no great revelations that came out of it.
Still, there were political winners and losers left long after the lights dimmed in the hearing room and everybody left for the day. Time will tell how this plays out, but Comey’s testimony did leave an impression and raised more questions in addition to providing answers.
James Comey – Trump supporters (I am no longer going to distinguish between Trump supporters and anti-anti-Trump people. At this point, they’re all Trump supporters based on their strong defense of the president) tried to spin the day as bad for Comey, but they’re engaging in a fool’s errand. From the moment Comey labeled the president a liar in his opening remarks to the calm and relaxed way he conducted himself, he came out looking much better than President Trump. I find the accusations of Comey being “political” to be somewhat amusing as Washington DC is a political town. James Comey knows how to play the game, and his detractors appear to be more angry at Comey’s ability to out-maneuver the president politically than they are by anything he did. People claimed his failure to push back harder on Donald Trump showed he was only interested in keeping his job. The problem is Donald Trump doesn’t care one whit about ethics or integrity and as such it is easy to see how one could be taken aback by his words and not react accordingly. It is safe for people to sit on the sidelines and say, “I would have pushed back or walked out!” but the reality is most of us wouldn’t have done it. Comey didn’t either, and he owned up to it.
Richard Burr and Mark Warner – Far too often, these committee hearings break down into partisan sniping and overall chaos. There was a little dust-up the day earlier between Burr and California Senator Kamala Harris, but it was not a major issue, and both sides of the political aisle maintained a sense of decorum and professionalism that we expect from our political leaders. I hope other committees are taking notice. Senators Burr and Warner deserve acknowledgment for their efforts to keep the hearings professional and conducting themselves in a way that showed their desire to learn the truth, not score political points.
Marco Rubio – I know some people took his line of questioning as a defense of Trump, but he was merely doing his job. His questions were pointed but not partisan. He wanted there to be due diligence, but people who are freaking out that Rubio behaved like a hack for the president are mistaken. Rubio went after Dan Coats and Mike Rodgers for what appeared to many, to be an effort on their part to cover for Trump.
President Donald Trump – When the former director of the FBI calls you a liar several times during a nationally televised congressional hearing, you’re not having an excellent day. The public didn’t learn anything new. It was merely a reminder that President Trump inappropriately harangued the director of the FBI about an ongoing investigation and insisted Comey act the part of a PR flak for Trump. Republicans do themselves no favors by shrugging and saying, “Hey, the President is new at this.” Whether Trump thinks he can run the country the way he runs a family business or is too dimwitted to understand the core functions of government and to understand the independent nature of the FBI is not a choice that inspires confidence. If there is one thing the President didn’t do it is harm himself by tweeting during the hearing or even when it was over. But the weekend is coming, and the President thus far has shown an astounding inability to ignore perceived slights and insults. The odds he will engage in a fiery tweet-storm with James Comey as his target are greater than him staying quiet.
Loretta Lynch – People harped on the ‘revelation’ that Loretta Lynch wanted Hillary Clinton’s email investigation referred to as a “matter,” thereby aligning with the language used by the Clinton campaign, instead of the word “investigation.” The news was not new. The NY Times reported it back in April. Still, if Republicans were hoping for the desired effect of it to paint Lynch as a political operative instead of an independent arbiter of the law, it worked.
The Republican National Committee – I stopped sending money to these bozos several years ago, and their behavior during the hearings only confirmed my decision was the proper one to make. The RNC sent out lame tweets and a barrage of emails attempting to pick apart Comey’s testimony like he’s a Democratic operative trying to undermine the president. It’s astounding how quickly members of the GOP are showing fealty to a man who regards them as nothing but a vehicle for his aspirations. Trump will dismiss the party and toss them aside the moment he no longer needs their support.
There will be more to come as the investigation continues. As such the winners and losers may change over time, but for now, Comey comes out ahead of the President, no matter what kind of spin they try to put on it.