To complete the line: “You don’t know me and you don’t know my style.”
I know you may have expected the original 1960’s version from the Stones, but when former FBI Director James Comey appeared before Congress this week peace and love were replaced by a rebel yell, not unlike Method Man’s introduction to the world in his self- titled track off of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
Comey, the deposed Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was summoned to Capitol Hill to shed light on several things that have been stuck in President Donald J. Trump’s quaff since he took the oath of office in January.
Despite earlier inquiries, Comey was expected to shed light on a range of topics including: his firing by Trump in the middle of an investigation into possible ties between Russia and his victorious campaign; the Bureau’s investigation into conversations held by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn with a Russian ambassador in December of 2016 and how it related to a handful of private conversations the FBI chief had with Trump in 2017.
Depending on what day you ask Trump, the maligned Flynn was either fired or resigned in February for fibbing to Vice President Mike Pence about his dealings with Moscow officials prior to #45 taking office. The conversations, which Flynn denied holding, were also suspiciously close to the sanctions levied against Russia by President Barack Obama for meddling in our elections.
Flynn’s mysterious dealings with Russia also coincided with reports of an investigation into that meddling. The combination of both probes created, if nothing else, billowing plumes of smoke and launched one of those rare, historic federal investigations that had the public asking: “what was known by whom and when?”
Dubbed a baseless witch hunt by Trump, Comey released a statement the day before his scheduled testimony, which outlined all of his encounters with Trump.
He said the President wanted to know what could be done to “lift the cloud” that was created from all of the questions regarding possible ties between the campaign, Trump staffers and those Russian investigations. President Trump said that confounded cloud had been hanging over his administration since he took office and it “was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and his overall ability to do his job.”
The President would reportedly do anything to get Comey to publicly proclaim he personally was not the focus of those investigations and not even a dinner date and several private conversations could not get him to do it.
Comey also stated Trump wanted to know if the director could make the investigation into Flynn go poof as either a show of loyalty or “that thing” (we) had.”
Unexpectedly fired in May after not making any public statements, Comey’s testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was the first substantive information regarding Trump, Flynn and Russia since the topic became a thing in January.
It also served as an opening salvo in what may be the first rebellion against America’s CEO- in-Chief since he swept into office last November.
Extolled as “fake news” in so many Trump Tweets, the American people wondered what would be said and what had been talked about in those White House conversations between Comey and Agent Orange and finally Zarathustra was set to speak.
Comey entered the congressional chambers and like some funky D.J., plopped down at a table and began cutting and scratching his testimony like he was a mix master using his previously released opening statement as a back beat for what was called Washington D.C.’s “Super Bowl.”
Streamed over the internet and aired on every major network, Comey had the nation anticipating his every word that Thursday afternoon.
Bars opened early to hold “viewing parties,” people paused work to steal moments of vital testimony on their computers, cellphones and mobile devices and suddenly this so called “nut job” was the ultimate maestro, like some DJ that moved the crowd in rave.
Mysterious and generally unknown as a person, the public admittedly did not know Jim Comey or his style, but when the bass dropped, we were treated to a performance, both seemingly spontaneous and unanticipated, but obviously calculated and masterful.
Focusing first on how he lost a job that was trumpeted by Trump in December, embraced and congratulated by him in January and ultimately terminated with little warning in May, Comey said the many accounts of his tenure under Trump only cemented the President as one thing — a liar.
And with that one word, suddenly the audience was captive.
It was then Comey broke out a remix of his earlier statement and spelled out the confusion over not only Trump’s varying versions of why and how he was fired, but most importantly how his incessant courtship of the constitutionally neutral FBI Director turned ugly when he refused to pledge his loyalty or publicly disclose that Trump was not the focus of an open query during his tenure.
Before he was done, Comey said he felt his job was on the line as he dodged pledges for loyalty, questions about how much he liked his job and how the President hoped a federal investigation into Flynn would turn out.
The whole time he mixed in that he was so uncomfortable around the pussy-grabber that he had to take notes recounting his meetings because the President could not be trusted to not lie.
Then came a simple but powerful master stroke, which did not require references to Mike Flynn, Russia or even obstruction of justice.
Comey said he couldn’t trust Trump because he couldn’t even be counted on to tell the truth about a straight-forward and definitive action like firing someone, something for which The Donald is known.
He pointed to at least three different versions of his termination, understanding that if one is true the others would have to be lies — “plain and simple.”
- Was he fired due to a memo from the Deputy Director of the FBI as was stated by White House spokespersons?
- Was he fired because he had lost the faith of the Bureau, which was later stated and then shot down by the same Deputy Director?
- Or was he fired — as the President stated during a television interview — because of his role in the Russia investigation?
In the end, establishing Trump as a liar had changed the beat and suddenly the former Director’s testimony became not so much about Flynn or Russia, but about Trump and why he fired Comey, even though he knew he was not the focus of an investigation.
I thought I told you that we won’t stop.
Comey refrained from giving Trump public acknowledgement of not being a target because he could not guarantee the President would not be a target in the future.
Ultimately, Comey was so worried about Trump’s lies that he leaked information to the press in the hopes it would spur the public to get the entire mess investigated by an independent counsel, which ultimately came to pass shortly after Comey was canned.
Trump’s propensity to lie could ultimately be as much of a problem as his possible obstruction of justice or ties to Russia. Under 18 US Code 1001, “it’s a federal crime to make any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation regarding any matter within jurisdiction” of the US government.”
Under that section, there doesn’t have to be an investigation to make the lying into a crime because making false statements to Comey as a representative of the government investigating a matter would in itself be crime.
In the end, he spun us round, round baby, round, round, like a record and after that performance, I must agree with the former Director, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”