Perhaps the private session will reveal something more compelling as it relates to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on the Hill this morning. As it is, it doesn’t appear that our sitting president obstructed justice by asking that the Russia investigation be shut down.
Was Trump curious about the investigation? Yes.
Did he try to convince Comey that his buddy former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was a “good guy”? Sure did.
Did he say the following? “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go…I hope you can let this go.” Indeed he did.
And this last may be the most crucial part of today’s hearings. Comey says he took it as direction, which would mean the President directed him to close an ongoing investigation, hence obstruction.
The implication is, of course, that Trump was so concerned with what might be uncovered during the investigation that he tried to intervene and have it stopped. But there’s a problem: according to Comey’s own testimony, Trump never, in fact, did try to intervene. And the assignment of a special counsel now in the form of former FBI director Robert Mueller indicates that Trump is perfectly fine with an investigation. Everybody is in agreement — including Comey — that Mueller is an honorable sort who will conduct a thorough and independent investigation.
In fact, Comey is claiming that his decision to leak his own memos to the press via a friend came because he thought a special prosecutor was necessary. He was fired, he says, because something about the way he was handling the Russia investigation put pressure on Trump and Trump wanted to relieve that pressure.
But Comey only found this moral resolve and clarity of thought AFTER he was fired, and admitted many times in different ways that he had no intention of resigning over this supposedly improper directive he had been given to close the Russia investigation.
This doesn’t make Comey a bad man. It makes him a human being who wanted to keep his job.
Chances are Trump WAS hoping the investigation was going to conclude quickly. Instinct tells me that our President, not having been a politician before, was actually unaware of the legal ramifications of Flynn’s relationships with Russian players.
It looks mostly like Trump lost confidence in his FBI Director, which he is allowed to do, and fired him for it, which he is also allowed to do.
Maybe it was unfair to Comey. Sometimes people work really hard and their boss still dislikes them. That’s a common scenario. But only Comey gets to have a Congressional hearing to air just how unfair he thinks it all is.
None of this is to suggest that Mueller’s investigation won’t turn up something stinky in the woodpile. But Comey’s public hearing certainly didn’t. You can watch the entire hearing here and judge for yourself.