Comey Speaks, And What We Learned
FBI Director James Comey today delivered a major blow against the man he put in the White House, when he essentially said that Donald Trump was lying about being wiretapped by President Obama. Of course, any sentient being already knew that, but after Comey’s statement only those who have drunk the Trump Kool-Aid can possibly take the accusation seriously.
More interesting was the behavior of the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, who did not even attempt to defend Trump’s mendacious tweets. They also acted as if the now-officially acknowledged FBI investigation into Russian manipulation of the US election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign was of no consequence, although they did try pathetically to get Comey on record as saying that the Russian operation did not affect the election’s outcome. (Comey noted that this was not a question that the FBI is trying to answer, as other intelligence officials have stated previously.)
Instead, the Republicans robotically pretended that leaks were really what the FBI probe should be focusing on. I guess “but the leaks!” will now replace “but her e-mails!” as the Republicans’ mantra. Their insouciance about Russian manipulation looks increasingly bizarre and perhaps a little desperate.
We also now know that the FBI investigation is indeed looking into links between the Trump team and the Russians and has been doing so since last July. Comey made a point of noting the unusualness of his commenting on an “ongoing investigation”. No one had to point out the irony that his October Surprise statement on another ongoing investigation about Hillary Clinton’s emails probably tipped the election to Trump. Comey refused to be pinned down on how long the investigation will go on, and he declined to go into any details about the extent of the investigation or what it has turned up so far.
One thing we still don’t know is whether the investigation is following up on reported financial ties between Trump himself and the Russian government and/or oligarchy.
The hearing provided a platform for the ranking Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff of California, to lay out a strong circumstantial case of contacts and possible collusion between members of the Trump team and Russia. The fact that the Republican chairman allowed him to make this 15+ minute statement, may indicate just how nervous Republicans really are about what may emerge from the FBI probe. It’s definitely worth watching the entire statement; for the video click here.
Meanwhile, Trump spent the day spewing out a series of falsehood-laden tweets, while Sean Spicer went full Melissa McCarthy trying to deny that his boss is a liar.
For the Republicans, perhaps the silver lining is that the hearings have distracted attention from the increasingly likely failure of Trump’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act in Congress. And it was even possible not to notice that Scalia 2.0 (aka Neil Gorsuch) started his confirmation hearings in the Senate today to fill the Supreme Court seat that the Republicans had refused to hold hearings on while Obama was president.