Former FBI Director James Comey counterpunched the Bully President over his firing last month during detailed testimony today before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing on Russian meddling in the presidential elections last fall.
Did Comey land a haymaker, a blow that would turn Trump’s head around? Nope, but the highly respected former law enforcement official landed a number of body blows that will most likely result in a Tweet storm from the Oval Office in the coming hours.
Comey was asked if his termination troubled him given that he was in the middle of serving a 10-year term as head of the agency and leading its investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence our country’s electoral process.
Any president has the right to fire an Executive Branch employee even an FBI director, but the reasons he gave for the firing “concerned me,” Comey replied. “He chose to defame me and the FBI.”
Trump said the agency was “in disarray and was being poorly led,” Comey reminded committee members. The FBI staff heard those comments, the American people heard them. Those statements were “lies,” Comey added.
Comey, in his self-deprecating manner, noted that “the FBI will be fine without me. The message I want to get out there is that the American people know this: the FBI is an honest, strong and independent agency.”
So bring it on, Comey seemed to tell the Bully President. White House tapes of conversations between Comey and Trump? “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said.
Would he release his memos of conversations with the Bully President written to protect himself and the FBI from a person he felt would not tell the truth about their meetings? Sure thing, although Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will most likely see them first since he is now in charge of the Department of Justice probe into Russian election meddling.
Was there any doubt the Russian government interfered with national elections? No, Comey replied quickly. Is former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in legal jeopardy? Yes.
Did the Bully President’s request to “let go” of the investigation into Flynn’s dealings with Russian representatives before, during and after the elections rise to an obstruction of justice level? Comey replied that the private conversation “was troubling, but it will be up to the special counsel to determine” if it amounts to an obstruction of justice.
How about that dossier on the Bully President’s alleged salacious conduct in Russia that was compiled by a former MI6 agent, and the potential for Russian operatives to use it to blackmail Trump? “I can’t discuss the dossier in an open forum,”Comey replied, although he quickly pointed out that his response should not be construed as a damning statement about the president.
In keeping with his reputation for honesty and integrity, Comey noted during his testimony that he had on three separate occasions confirmed to the Bully President he was not under criminal investigation. He told committee members, however, that not all of the FBI leadership team agreed with this statement.
One team member expressed concern that the investigation of collusion between Russia and any U.S. presidential campaign would include the candidate. Therefore, the argument against telling Trump he was not under investgation could be made because such an assurance might have to be walked back at some point in time.
Still, Comey believed in order to be truthful and honest with Trump, the correct move was to tell the president he was not a target of investigators.
Comey’s ethical approach to his former work as the nation’s lead law enforcement office led him to agree with a committee member that a New York Times article concerning reports that Trump campaign aides were colluding with the Russians — according to anonymous sources — was wrong. He also commented that there were a number of other inaccurate media reports, but the FBI’s policy is never to comment or ask for retractions on bogus reports.
The firing by the Bully President knocked Comey down but not out. During today’s testimony he picked himself up off the canvas, and as anyone whose reputation and legacy have put into question, he threw solid punches against Trump, who has a propensity for swinging and missing.
For instance, what about those White House tapes? Bring ’em on. If they actually exist, Comey and all of us would like to hear what’s on them.