Comey at the Senate

Hey, Scalzi! It’s me, your fictional interlocutor!

Oh, God, you again.

You know why I’m here!

This is about the James Comey testimony yesterday, isn’t it?

Correct! 

*sighs*

Fine, let’s do this.

James Comey testimony! Your thoughts!

Well, assuming Comey was truthful and reasonably accurate in his testimony, and to be clear I suspect he was, then it basically tells us what we already knew, which is that Donald Trump is a lying liar who lies, and that he rather stupidly tried to intervene in the Michael Flynn/Russia investigation, and in a way that’s very probably actual obstruction of justice. And he implied another thing I suspect most of us already knew, which is that the Russians have their hands up the asses of a whole lot of people in the Trump administration, including very likely Jeff Sessions. So, I can’t say that I was entirely surprised by anything Comey said, but it’s gratifying to have it in the congressional record.

Do you still think James Comey wasn’t very good at his job?

Kind of? I think what his testimony solidified for me is that James Comey was probably pretty good at the day to day minutiae of his former gig, and also that within the context of that gig he was pretty ethical. But I also think he made some high-profile bad calls, and that very same desire for ethical action caused him to exacerbate rather than mitigate some of those bad calls.

At this point I’ve gotten used to thinking of Comey as something of a tragic figure, whose greatest virtue — a desire to act ethically and above the usual boundaries of politics in the execution of his duties — ended up precipitating a national and global crisis. Because make no mistake that we have a President Trump in large part because of him. I suspect that eats at him even if he believes all his actions during 2016 were ultimately correct and appropriate, as the head of the FBI.

(This is not to say a President Hillary Clinton would not have had her challenges. But only a fool or a committed partisan (and there’s some considerable overlap there) at this point believes a Clinton administration would have been the gross and obvious ethical Superfund site the Trump administration has been from day one.)

Let me put it this way: I think Comey could have made better decisions in his role as FBI director. I also think his testimony was probably, pun intended, unimpeachable.

But Trump says Comey’s testimony vindicated him!

Sure, but Trump says a lot of stupid things, doesn’t he? If by “vindicated” he means “established him as a liar and obstructor of justice,” then yes, he’s entirely vindicated. Otherwise it’s just Trump lying as fast as he can, which pretty much goes to Comey’s point directly, doesn’t it.

Trump’s lawyer says he going to file a complaint against Comey for leaking. Thoughts?

I mean, okay, but so what? First: Comey, then a private citizen, giving a friend a non-classified memo recounting a conversation he had with the president, and encouraging the friend to share it? That’s not actually a leak, now, is it? Comey was already out of a job. Also, filing a complaint will do what, precisely? Is the Department of Justice going to fire him again? A double-secret firing? It doesn’t appear that Comey did anything illegal, and complaining to the Department of Justice about it seems likely to result in exactly one thing: The lawyer complaining to the Department of Justice about it. Like many things Trump does, this is a lot of noise and movement but no actual result.

And I suspect the Trump people know that’s all that’s going to come out of it, which is why Trump and his party pals, like Corey Lewandowski, are mostly resorting to asserting that if Comey were a real man, he would have talked to the press himself rather than having a pal do it, harumph, harumph. Which leads me to two thoughts. One, I’m sure James Comey is gonna stay up nights worrying what an asshole like Corey Lewandowski thinks about him, vis a vis manhood or anything else. Two, this is (one reason) why the Trump people are stupid: They’ve confused successfully executing on a strategy with weakness. It doesn’t matter whether Lewandowski thinks Comey is “man enough,” because no matter what he or Trump think about Comey’s manhood, Comey’s actions resulted in Robert Mueller appointed as a special investigator. Which is to say Comey was man enough to dunk on Trump.

Thoughts on the senators who questioned Comey?

I felt sad about John McCain, who was clearly not all there. Otherwise I think the GOP senators spent a lot of time trying to convince themselves and others that Trump saying “I hope” didn’t mean he was really trying to obstruct the investigation, and to blame Comey for not forcefully telling Trump “No, what you’re asking for is totally illegal” in the moment. On the former, Comey pretty much demolished the “I hope” argument by quoting Henry II with regard to Thomas a Becket, thus sending a thrill through the hearts of history nerds everywhere, and on the latter, here, read this by Ana Marie Cox, which is entirely on point. The Democratic senators were more on message, as is to be expected.

What about Loretta Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton? The GOP senators seemed very interested in that.

Sure, anything to take the conversation away from Trump and obstruction of justice. I get why the GOP senators wanted to talk about that, even aside using it as a way to run down the clock on Comey’s testimony. But here’s a thing, which is that Hillary Clinton’s not the president, whereas Trump is. So I think most people are a smidgen more interested in what he’s up to, than a woman who is no longer Attorney General talking to the husband of a woman who is not sitting behind the Resolute desk in the White House. Maybe that’s just me.

So do you think this is finally it? The thing that gets Trump impeached?

Trump’s not getting impeached.

But… obstruction of justice! 

The House is as likely to vote to impeach Trump on this or indeed any other illegal/unethical thing he’s actually currently doing as I am to sprout a peach tree out of my tailbone. This is your occasional reminder that today’s GOP has no moral or ethical center, and apparently works under the belief that the entire point to the life of the average American citizen is to fork over their progressively declining wages to large companies to make the very rich that much richer. Trump’s helping with that goal, so why would they get in the way with that? Trump could tromp into the White House rose garden, club Sean Spicer to death live on Fox and Friends, and then skull-fuck the bloody corpse, chortling about his electoral college victory all the while, and all you would get out of the GOP is Paul Ryan’s patented little grimace, and the general argument that it’s the president’s prerogative to skull-fuck the corpse of any of his staff, so why is the mainstream media making such a big deal about it.

So, yeah. Don’t pick out your glittery impeachment pants just yet. You’re gonna have to wait for 2019 at the earliest for that.

Also, for the record: I do not endorse anyone, including but not limited to the President of the United States, doing anything to Sean Spicer to bring about his death or even his mild physical discomfort, in the White House rose garden or indeed anywhere else, much less then skull-fucking his corpse, bloody or otherwise, on live or recorded television, streaming on the internet or even in private. Please do not kill Sean Spicer, ever. He’s already dead inside. That should be enough for anybody.

So what do we get out of the Comey hearing?

You get the satisfaction out of confirming that Donald Trump is a real piece of shit both as a human being and as a president. Congratulations!

Late breaking news! Trump calls Comey a liar!

This is a surprise?

He says he’ll testify under oath about what Comey said!

Who said that?

Someone on Twitter!

Oh, okay, then.

You seem skeptical.

Even if Trump did promise testify under oath (which, if his personal lawyers are competent — big if — they would never in a second advise he ever do ever in the history of ever, ps: never ever ever), and he somehow didn’t back out of it (which if his lawyers are competent they would try to get him to do), the chances he wouldn’t lie his ass off even under oath is pretty slim, because he’s Donald Trump, and what he does is lie his ass right off. Because he’s always done it and it’s worked so far, up to and including getting him into the White House, so why change strategies?

Look: No one — no one — believes Trump more than they believe Comey. The best you can say is his partisans either don’t think it’s important that Trump lies out of his ass all the time, or they’re confident he’ll just keep getting away with it. So, sure: Get Trump under oath. He’ll lie. And when he lies, because why shouldn’t he, it’s always worked before, let’s see what happens then. Let’s see what the GOP says about it then.

Uh… that seems to be ending on a down note, there.

You’re the one asking questions, man.

But, fine. Look: Scamperbeasts!

Thank you. I needed that.

I know. We all did.

85 thoughts on “Comey at the Senate

  1. Also, this might interest you and other readers there. As you say, impeachment might not happen, but I don’t think it hurts to talk about it:

    Michael A. Burstein, a Town Meeting member from Brookline’s precinct 12 who voted for the measure, told the Globe he believes local officials have the responsibility to act.

    “The fact that this resolution was brought by over 400 regular town voters shows there is widespread approval in town for this resolution,” Burstein said in an e-mail.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/05/26/brookline-town-meeting-calls-congress-investigate-trump/TAp0pOzsjXCU3RKXhi3drI/story.html

  2. “He only said ‘I hope’ so he wasn’t ordering you to do it.”

    “She didn’t say No, so it’s not rape.”

    People grok indefinite communication perfectly when it suits them.

  3. Man, I wish I could say you were wrong about the impeachment thing….but you aren’t. At most, GOP will express grave concern over Trumps actions. If he followed through on your Spicer idea they might escalate that feeling to alarm. A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  4. I was not impressed with Comey’s testimony, I do believe he was truthful. I believe that Trump is a pathological liar and doesn’t have a grasp on the position he holds. I think McCain may have been high.

  5. There is a massive difference between Annette Funicello looking up at you with damp eyes in the middle of a bright park, midday, saying, ‘I hope you can find it in yourself to let him go!’ while her puppy whimpers in the back of your Dog Pound truck…

    … and Marlon Brando playing Don Corleone, sitting opposite you in a dim office, alone, sand saying to you slowly and carefully, “I hope you can find it in yourself to let him go.”

  6. Sadly I think John is right
    The GOP has abandoned anything resembling ethics or morals or even patriotism and has put being in power before everything else
    And they can help keep things this way if they keep Trump there so you end up with the latest “Hey he’s new and didn’t realize this isn’t how you should do things”
    Which, in a normal year, would still get you convicted as ignorance of the law is no excuse
    But, hey WE’RE IN POWER !!!!!!!!!!
    So myeh

  7. Keep an eye on Trump’s polling in the GOP base. If the message that he’s a weakling gets through to them then Congress will finally be willing to turn on him. Still probably not impeachment, but maybe a ‘health reasons’ based resignation.

    Also if the rumors are true about Pense/Sessions/etc being on Putin’s team as well… then things get way more interesting than any of us would like.

  8. Excusing everyone from the room, and later firing Comey for not doing what the “Predisent” ‘hoped’ tells everyone that it was a directive.

    Agree he won’t be impeached because the GOP no longer upholds their oath of office, nor duty as Congress for the people to be a check of the Executive branch.

    However, there’s still Mueller, and he seems very quiet right now. Probably getting ready to make everyone’s political life very miserable. Hope springs eternal.

  9. Expecting the Republican Congress to act to throw over Trump when their most recent defense of his is “well, you have to understand he’s incompetent” seems to be quite a stretch.

  10. Yeah, no impeachment before the midterms. The only way Trump gets booted before then is if he impedes the looting of the country, in which case he’s history. But the distractions of the Comey testimony gives cover for the other horrid things the Republicans want, like gutting Dodd-Frank (which was complete weak sauce anyway, but slightly better than nothing).

    Trump being shown to being a lying liar who lies is no biggy, and not exactly a shock. Though it would be highly entertaining if Comey sues for defamation (Trumps lawyer calling him a liar).

    And any lawyer who lets Trump say anything under oath should immediately be disbarred.

  11. To me, the interesting thing is that the Comey situation is about the only place where Trump actually has mad skills: As a corporate despot, he’d long ago mastered the art of intimidating underlings into doing what he wanted without creating anything actionable (i.e., an embarrassing unjust firing lawsuit). You can bet that in his interactions with Comey, the clear subtext was “you’ll do what I tell you or I’ll fire your sorry ass as a lesson to everyone else that I don’t tolerate disobedience.”

    It undoubtedly worked. If you’re holding down an important and lucrative Washington job that will likely lead to profitable subsequent employment as a highly paid lobbyist or a corporate sinecure to reward you for your complaisance or a cushy university teaching position, how willing would you be to throw it all away on a point of principle? Think Comey’s going to have an easy time finding an equally good job? Seems unlikely, unless someone throws him a bone. Now, same question of principle, but throw in an underwater mortgage and two kids in university ($$$). Not so easy, huh?

    I was deeply disappointed by the Comey testimony. I’d hoped he’d at least developed the spook instinct to covertly record important conversations in case the recording became useful at some future date. Doesn’t matter whether it’s admissible in court. Blackmail potential alone would make this an expected strategy. The lack of such tapes is yet another squandered opportunity.

    On the other hand, maybe Trump really does have his own tapes and will be stupid enough to release them. I live in hope…

  12. I think you have a typo here:
    “…I’ve gotten used to thinking of Comey as something of a tragic feature…”
    which should be “…tragic FIGURE…”

    LOVE your characterization of the Trump regime as a “…gross and obvious ethical SuperFund site…” <– NAILED it!

    No "glittery Impeachment pants" for me; if we can dump the Mango Mussolini we're stuck with Pence, who's just as horrible but a marginally more competent politician, so could actually get more accomplished. 🙀😾

  13. Comey, yesterday? Eh… The president* is a liar, no news there. We’re going be here for quite a while, it’s gonna get ugly(er).

    Credit due: “president*” is from Charles P. Pierce.

    I now use [emoji raging fire] [emoji pile o shit] to refer to the president*
    Simple. Clear. Not insulting to anything with a neuron.

    Early Elvis Costello applies, either Red Shoes (I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused…) or I’m Not Angry.

    Ugly(er). Sigh.

  14. I have been having far too easy a time getting through on the phone lines to my senators. Twitter has been suggesting that phone levels are back to what they were before inauguration. And that the senate GOP is planning on ramming through the AHCA in the minimal amount of time without any input before word can get out to the public about what is in it (Elizabeth Warren just sent out an email saying the latter, so that’s not just random people on twitter).

    I know I was feeling pretty burned out this past month. I agree that it’s unlikely that this Russia thing is going to result in any actual action until the midterms (GOP is risking a President Pelosi by dragging this out…), so I (we) can’t just wait for justice to take its course. And I know that my senators and rep do not care one drop about their constituents. But, we still need to be calling/faxing/protesting/talking/etc. Because while Comey is making headlines, Dodd Frank has been rolled back, the next round of the AHCA is being negotiated, and so much more. They need to know we’re paying attention or things will get even worse.

    Here’s how to contact your elected officials: http://myreps.datamade.us/
    And there are plenty of resistance groups to join– I’m a fan of Indivisible and there may be one in your area. But there’s also swingleft and pansuit nation and #resist from meetup and a lot more. Local politics are extremely important too– if states weren’t so gerrymandered, killing the VRA wouldn’t have had such a terrible effect on elections, and more people would have health insurance from Medicaid expansions. Also, it’s not too early to register to vote! Or to become a voter registrar!

  15. The GOP will abandon Trump when it becomes clear their political futures are at stake. Once their personal space at the trough is clearly under threat, they will start to worry.
    This may take until the mid-terms, or just before – hoping dumping Trump will provide a boost. Until then they’ll try to weather out the storm.

    I doubt they’ll impeach though – it will be ‘did he jump or was he pushed’ moment, but Trump may well refuse to budge (wouldn’t that be interesting?)

    Look towards those Republicans who will be at risk in the mid-terms to jump ship first.

  16. Trump did say he’d testify under oath – but only during a press conference to reporters. So when it comes time, will he pick –

    (a) I never said that
    (b) You misunderstood me
    (c) If there’s ever a fair investigation I’ll testify but in this witchhunt why would I do that?
    (d) Squirrel!

  17. @OGH – yeah, he is a public figure, but I’d have thought accusing him of lying under oath (a criminal offence) during his testimony has got to sail pretty close to the defamation line. If he’d just said he was lying in general, I’d agree, but specifically referring to the testimony you’d think is different. Though IANAlL, thankfully.

  18. A question that I’ve had for which I’ve been unable to find an answer: Did Comey have any legal obligation to answer “Am I under investigation?” truthfully?
    If I was a cop, I wouldn’t want the bad guy to know, especially if WAS being investigated (at least until can get enough to get a warrant or whatever).

  19. You said no one believes trump anymore. Not true-I have relatives that today posted how they didnt believe Comey. How can they have the same blood as me?

  20. It doesn’t benefit the Republicans to dump Trump until after the midterms. They’d just be putting their new guy in the firing line to take the heat and have that new guy’s image damaged. If they wait until afterwards then the new guy gets to come in, promise they are listening, changing tack, working to win back the crowd, shiny new era tip-toeing nearer, etc. then they go into the next Presidential election still in the new guy’s honeymoon period and pleading for a chance that his reforms are just starting work and to let him stay the course and not change horses midstream, and that all gives them the best chance at the 2020 elections. There is just no profit dumping Trump right now, let all the screw ups accumulate on Trump’s own personal brand instead.

    As for John McCain. I hope he’s seen a doctor. I watched the video and at one point I thought I was seeing an old man have a stroke right in front of my eyes and nobody was doing anything. I genuinely do hope that he’s gone to a doctor and it really was just him being tired and emotional.

  21. I think Ana Marie Cox’s comment about Trump being a predator are spot on.As for him being a liar, this is a surprise to anyone with more than two brain cells?

  22. I certainly hope Trump doesn’t get impeached; two words: President Pence.

    Back in the day, nobody talked seriously about impeaching President Nixon, that is, until after Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned.

  23. Geoff Hart: Remember Comey is in law enforcement, not spycraft. Attempting to bring a wire into the White House wouldn’t provide any evidence to advance any investigation and puts him at personal risk… unless he was also a photograph for Tass.

  24. Things would be a lot more heartening if there were some good Democrats lining up for the midterms. There aren’t, though, so you have to count Comey as just being cathartic.

    Other than that, I hope that impeachment is in line, but it will not be. Beware anyone Trump hires to work in the government though. Something about Wray is off.

    I’ll second the vote for more scamperbeasts.

  25. @Formerly just Craig

    I don’t know about that. At least here in California, there’s a campaign already underfoot to unseat Rep Darrell Issa in Orange County. The challenger, Mike Levin, has been raising some serious cash and has been hounding Issa on the healthcare vote, among other things. Issa barely managed reelection and Trump is deeply unpopular, even in that GOP stronghold.

    I think there might be a better resurgence than you’re expecting, especially if we all spend the next 17 months working on it.

  26. Since you opened the door to trump’s veracity, I’ll mention that anyone who thinks Trump is trustworthy thinks a guy who invented multiple fake personas (one of which he named his kid after) to brag about his sexual conquests to the media is a trustworthy guy.

    This has been proven true, and Trump admits to it. I got nothing to say to anyone dim enough to think that guy is trustworthy.

    Now, if you’re playing like you think he’s truthful, but you’re really doing it to hurt liberals, POC, LGBTQ folks and feminists? You’re living up to my expectations of what conservatives are really like if they’re not absolute rubes.

  27. After “Reality Winner” was arrested, I became convinced I am living inside a cheap political thriller novel purchased in an airport waiting room.

  28. I could go on and on about my issues with HRC [hint: Corporatist fake Liberal] and how she really really really blew the election [hint: baldy alienated Progressives and a lousy ground game] but….

    ..but, yes, she is *not* Pres and The Shit Gibbon is, so there, Fox News [and even they seem to be getting fed up with him]

    PS being a ex New Yorker, his behavior doesn’t surprise me all that much. I few things do ‘in the moment’, but then I go, “Oh yeah, it’s The Donald,” and continue to watch him turn the GOP in the biggest political dumpster fire in American history since the collapse of The Whig Party.

  29. The elegant solution, which the GOP donors want, is for Mueller to get a criminal indictment so it goes to the judicial branch and their employees in Congress don’t have to take a stand.

    They also want Pence replaced before Trump; otherwise, Pence – who is in this up to his eyeballs – simply becomes the next target. The donors want stability above all, including no waves in terms of free trade, and a relatively “clean” moderate who can be installed as vp, ready to take over, and who will be a satisfactory caretaker, just like Ford was … Someone like Ryan Zimke or Ben Sasse would do nicely.

    The Democrats will win in 2020, but if we follow the Nixon-Ford-Carter precedent, they’ll spend four years cleaning up the mess and a truly Reaganesque figure will come along in ’24.

  30. Dave Crisp: Thomas à Becket is one of the acknowledged names that Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury was known by.

  31. Adding to the Rethuglican senators who thought Comey should tell his boss’s boss how it works, one other name: Diane Feinstein. I’ve wondered in the past if she was a closet Rethug, I guess I need to re-analyse that.

  32. *puts glittery pants away*

    This whole thing is just depressing. No Congress has ever started impeachment proceedings against a member of its own party, so the only way we’ll ever get impeachment is if we completely sweep the midterms (unlikely). This administration has been a shitshow from day one, and there is seemingly nothing that can cause the current GOP to stand up to the president. Many of them are simply bad people, and the ones who aren’t are weak or deluding themselves. I’m gonna go watch some videos on YouTube now. Maybe that will take the edge off of this whole thing.

  33. Impeachment will follow the indictments, but at that point it will be moot, because Mr. Trump will be deposed under the 25th.

  34. Sadly, the president is essentially immune to criminal prosecution while he is the president. Hence the reason that the remedy of impeachment exists.

  35. The Republicans are now entirely about attaining and retaining power and they don’t care how.
    The real tragedy is the number of Americans who continue to vote for them and continue to support Trump, completely against their own self interest and (in case of the religious right), completely against all their so called moral superiority and family values.
    But then, we’ve pretty much known that for well over a decade. If they haven’t pulled their heads out of their ass by now I don’t know what could possibly induce them to do so.

  36. @Allison: No. No contemporary source has the “a” in his name. Modern scholars are nearly unanimous that it’s a post-Reformation mistake, possibly a result of someone getting him mixed up with Thomas a Kempis.

  37. “”the Russians have their hands up the asses of a whole lot of people in the Trump administration, including very likely Jeff Sessions.”

    And, I think, quite a few Senators and Representatives. The rot has gone far.

  38. If you have not, I suggest Googling Scott Adams Blog, for his reasoned, logical and brief take on current events .. political and non-political. His comments on the Comey session are demonstrated by most of the comments that I’ve read here.

  39. “the Russians have their hands up the asses of a whole lot of people in the Trump administration, including very likely Jeff Sessions.”

    I think it’s more that Vladimir Putin, Steve Bannon, and a bunch of thieves led by Jared Kushner are dueling frantically for influence somewhere around Trump’s vocal cords and it all flows downhill, but that’s just me.

    Honestly, I’m seriously considering stepping in front of a bus. My country’s been taken over by moronic fascists, nobody has the power or the spine to stand against them, they stole and packed the Supreme Court, and the President of the United States is literally the worst we’ve had since James Buchanan, who on top of being a typical-of-the-time sexist racist idiot, also caused a civil war through gross incompetence. Why should anyone even give enough of a crap to stay alive anymore? It’s not like things will ever get better now.

  40. Rochrist – Actually, although there are DOJ opinions about presidential indictments going back to Watergate, that’s all they are – opinions. There is no law or precedent, and considering Mueller’s staffing decisions, it is a safe inference to make that he expects the issue to be taken up before SCOTUS.

    Mr. Sargent – Scott Adams? Why not Breitbart or Fox or TASS while you are at it? A RW cartoonist is your legal source? Yeah, okay.

  41. “Sean Spicer….He’s already dead inside.” Ouch. No TV here, but when I have seen clips of a press conference, yeah, there’s a guy who hates his job. Either that, or he’s despairing because the press – no matter how hard he tries – isn’t calling out every official statement as the pack of lies that they are.

  42. @ Floored by Scalzi’s awesomeness: Don’t step in front of that bus yet. The speed with which things are moving these days, you might miss something awesome tomorrow.

    @ Crypticmirror, I like your cool-headed prediction. I think you are spot-on.

  43. Here in the UK a weirdy-beardy leftie just gave the political Right the finger, for a moment there, everything looked possible. But you make much sense as always. The glittery impeachment kecks look good but I’ve sent them back Thank you for the picture of cats, I felt much better.

  44. Scalzi commented:

    “Comey’s a public figure. It’s very hard as a public figure to sue for defamation.”

    True. Although this leads me to the thought that defamation laws did not contemplate the possibility of slander by a POTUS who happens to be a raging lunatic.

  45. Maybe Gary Sargent means Scott J. Adams, the labor economist at one of the Michigan schools. He’s a good guy and a solid economist, but I didn’t know he had a blog. Reasoned and logical certainty don’t describe the cartoonist (though bigoted is pretty apt).

  46. John, I think you’re not entirely correct when you say that Comey directly is responsible for Trump’s presidency. The way I see it, we have President Trump because of the Russians, and Comey was used by the Russians to be a significant part of that. And yes, Comey did not like this one bit. I am fairly convinced (though more because of a gut feeling what kinds of person Comey is than because of already publicly known facts) that when Comey wrote that letter, he felt he had a choice between two scenarios: 1) He writes that letter, helps Trump, but remains FBI director longer; 2) he doesn’t write, Trump still becomes President, and gets fired very soon. He chose what he felt was the better option, to stay in a position of power, with the intent to prepare as much as he could to unseat Trump. He decided to strike back at that time.

    Here’s a reminder: The FBI is the in-country counterintelligence service. The hearing was in the intelligence committee. The investigation in question was a counterintelligence investigation; at no point did they discuss criminal investigations, in part because a sitting POTUS could not be prosecuted. But I am certain that such a criminal investigation exists. Imagine the political pressure onto the House GOP if such an investigation becomes public and yielded hefty evidence against Trump.

    I see this whole hearing as part of an counterintelligence operation against Trump. It was not, and was not intended to be, to be an end point. It was a stepping point. And if you listened closely, in particular if you heard what Comey did not say, or said he could not say publicly, the end point will be nuclear.

  47. Floored by Scalzi’s awesomeness says: “Honestly, I’m seriously considering stepping in front of a bus.”

    I know you were probably indulging in rhetoric, but I feel obliged to note that this approach, stepping in front of any other moving vehicle, “suicide by cop”, or any other method of having someone else do your dirty work is (a) not guaranteed to succeed and (b) a highly unethical choice. First off, a great many such attempts fail, and leave you far worse off than when you started. Self-slaughter is harder than it sounds. Second, people who inadvertently kill other people tend to have major PTSD afterwards; even when they know they’re not at fault, it can ruin that person’s life, not to mention the lives of any sensitive bystanders who witness your attempt. (My son was traumatized for a year after witnessing a subway suicide.) I suspect (but don’t know for sure) that it’s worse if you only maim the would-be suicider.

    I’m not inherently opposed to suicide. For some people, particularly when other treatments have failed, it’s a valid and rational solution to one or more intolerable problems. Not all problems can be solved. But if you’re going to to this, research a method with a high probability of success and do it yourself, possibly with help from a really good friend who won’t be tied to what is still a crime in most jurisdictions (i.e., helping someone end their life). Arranging this can be tricky.

    Off the top of my head, were I facing this choice, I’d go to the Netherlands and arrange a consult with a doctor who provides end-of-life assistance. I’d ask them for details of the method so that “I can fully understand the procedure and its consequences”. If they wouldn’t accept my rationale and help me, I’d be equipped with the necessary information to obtain the required materials and do the job myself.

  48. “First: Comey, then a private citizen, giving a friend a non-classified memo recounting a conversation he had with the president, and encouraging the friend to share it? That’s not actually a leak, now, is it?”

    My understanding as a non-lawyer and non-politician is that since Comey and Trump had the meeting in confidence and since Comey is both a lawyer and a politician (of sorts) the claim is that the talks were covered under attorney-client privilege. Even after he was fired, the attorney-client privilege would still apply. Thus, since he did not have his client’s permission to discuss their meeting with a third party, Comey has violated the ethical standards of his profession. The only out would be if Comey thought that the Trump was trying to commit an illegal act, which influencing an ongoing investigation might be (that’s one of those grey areas that make lawyers rich).

    Having said that, I sure miss Gerald Ford.

  49. Gary Sargent, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has spent his career lampooning the corporate culture of liars, spin and petty men who abuse their power. He seems to have forgotten all of that and is an apologist for all the same things in Trump.

  50. The best you can say is his partisans either don’t think it’s important that Trump lies out of his ass all the time, or they’re confident he’ll just keep getting away with it.

    I second faketvboyfriend’s reaction to that: there are people who are willing to say they believe Trump, either because they’ve been drinking the Foxolimbeckian Fla-Vor-Aid for long enough to get tooth-decay of the brain, or because (as Josh Jasper proposes instead) they’re “really doing it to hurt liberals, POC, LGBTQ folks and feminists”. Many of these people write to Public Opinion and/or The Herald-Mail, and not nearly enough people reply pointing out the texture and density of the shit with which these people are packed (largely because the time one would spend writing a letter to correct them is time one could spend doing something less painful and more productive, such as beating one’s head against a brick wall).

  51. Couldn’t agree more that there wasn’t anything particularly new or surprising in Comey’s testimony. We already knew Trump was a liar and that, either through ignorance or arrogance, he’s not especially good at staying on the right side of the law.

    I’m not as convinced with regards to the impeachment argument. The president has already placed himself in a position where impeachment is a real threat should Congress choose to play that card. That means that, as when or if Congress decides that Trump is more of a liability than an asset, they can discard him and see him replaced with the much more conventional Pence.

    So, why is Trump an asset right now? For all of his bluff and bluster, there’s a massive void of leadership coming from the executive branch. There’s no agenda, the bureaucracy is understaffed, and the Trump has few allies in Washington. He’s loud, but he’s not really driving much of anything other than a wall that’s not going to happen and a Muslim ban that’s never going to pass muster.

    The Republican establishment has use for that absence in the Oval Office, particularly when there’s a lot of sound and fury drawing the spotlight. They can pass the most odious laws in relative darkness. Trump, who’s desperate for anything that looks like a “win” will be happy to sign them and even take credit for them. This is great for Congress.

    But, there’s an expiration date, isn’t there? Trump’s personal unpopularity is likely to be a drag in the 2018 elections. Worse, the Russia investigation threatens to expand and envelop not just Trump but perhaps even stalwarts of the party establishment. If this is in fact the case, it would make more sense to remove him before the 2018 elections. Impeachment proceedings have never been started by the president’s own party, but Trump isn’t really one of them and removing him will make the republicans in congress look as though they’re putting country above party (once their legislative agenda has been accomplish).

    The sudden speed with which the legislation is now moving suggests to me that I might, just might be on to something. As with any conspiracy theory, the odds of this one playing out the way I imagine it are slim, but it seems…reasonable?

  52. I am a flaming liberal and part of me wants to see the GOP shattered with the pieces flown into the Sun, but I understand we need a multi-party system in which there are two OR MORE viable parties with leaders of wisdom and patriotism. As of now, I see mostly bought-and-sold politicians so spineless it makes one wonder if they need artificial support to stand straight.

  53. Sure Trump will go under oath about the Comey meeting. He cleared the room for exactly that reason. No one else can testify to the content of the meeting. There are no tapes.

  54. I think Trump will resign. He’s already not having much fun, and the job is haaard (not that he’s actually doing it).

    Everybody keeps pointing out that Trump’s popularity with his base remains high. What they’re missing is that the percentage of voters who self-identify as Republicans keeps dropping. At this rate, by 2018 you won’t find more 20% of the voting population willing to admit that they voted for Trump in 2016.

  55. Trump is here to stay, why? Because, oh well, the Republicans won’t impeach him so we just have to accept that. The game is over.

  56. JohnD says:
    JUNE 10, 2017 AT 10:32 AM

    My understanding as a non-lawyer and non-politician is that since Comey and Trump had the meeting in confidence and since Comey is both a lawyer and a politician (of sorts) the claim is that the talks were covered under attorney-client privilege. Even after he was fired, the attorney-client privilege would still apply. Thus, since he did not have his client’s permission to discuss their meeting with a third party, Comey has violated the ethical standards of his profession. The only out would be if Comey thought that the Trump was trying to commit an illegal act, which influencing an ongoing investigation might be (that’s one of those grey areas that make lawyers rich).

    John, Comey may be a lawyer but he is not TRUMP’S lawyer. The White House Counsel is the guy that is supposed to keep the President and his minions on the right side of the applicable laws. The current guy is pretty much screwing that up, since Sally Yates informed him of the Flynn mess and he did nothing about it.

    The dinner with Comey happened the day after Sally Yates warned the WH, BTW, so the timiing is interesting.

    I follow Lawfare Blog for legal takes on this stuff. They have a twitter feed.

    There are no recordings of the meetings with Comey. I know this because if they did exist, AND SUPPORTED HIS VERSION OF THE MEETING, POTUS45 would be broadcasting them on a loop and siccing the Justice Department to arrest Comey for perjury. Since neither of those things are happening, no recordings exist, -OR- they exist and support Comey’s version of reality.

    Comey screwed stuff up along the way, for sure, but the most distressing part of the whole thing is how Russian meddling in our election process (and Frances’ also) is being brushed off. Putin loves the fact that the Western Democracies are in turmoil, and that the only real nation that can challenge him for world leadership is rudderless and a total effing mess.

    That should be of concern for every American patriot, no matter what party they vote for.

  57. “Don Corleone, sitting opposite you in a dim office, alone, and saying to you slowly and carefully, “I hope you can find it in yourself to let him go.”

    A great exposition of Comey’s position at dinner with the President of the Electoral College, Don Corleone Trump. Comey did some stupid things last year, and is now trying to make up for them.

    I don’t know if he (Comey) really had anything to do with the special prosecutor being appointed. I’m not sure that Mueller will be allowed to stay on the trail long enough to indict the folks who should be indicted. I personally (IANAL) believe that no one is above the law, and the President of the Electoral College is as vulnerable to indictment as I am – moreso because I’m not a Russian stooge.

    I don’t think President of the Electoral College Don Trump will be impeached, unless a whole bunch of people are already indicted, including Pense, Sessions (The KK Klown, aka Evil Elf) etc.

    Bad times.

    I have a backhoe, and a basement room that’s 8 inch reinforced concrete all around – well, thicker floor. Needs a little work around the doorway and more dirt on top to be a real fallout shelter, but I have the tools. Should I start reinforcing and packing away supplies? Will it get radioactive? There are a lot of targets upwind, SAC bases, B-52, B-1B and B-2 bases, the Minuteman bases. I’m old now, but I would hate to die of radiation poisoning. Thinking about it, for the first time in a long time.

  58. John D. – your understanding of the position of director of the FBI is, to be charitable, flawed.

    In reality, it’s flat wrong.

    An FBI agent – and the director – is a cop, not a prosecutor, and most definitely not a defense attorney, and is most certainly not a politician. The director – like every federal office holder, commissioned officer, etc. swears an oath to the US Constitution, not the president.

  59. Trump wont resign. To do so would be an acknowledgement of failure, that he cant cut it. And Trump is psychologically incapable of admitting he is wrong, that he screwed up, or that he cant keep up. The man declared bankruptcy half a dozen times and sells himself as the worlds greatest businessman. He brags about sexual assault as if its something to be proud of. He has tiny hands and has to say “bigly” at least once a sentence.

    Trump will stay until fully impeached, no resignation to beat that outcome, or he will stay until voted out of office, and he will likely try to get the military to impose martial law and declare any vote he loses to be rigged. At which point, he will only leave when thrown out by force.

  60. My first comment is does anyone know if the Comey letter to congress was marked with some kind of classified stamp? Comey didn’t leak the letter the leak came from congress. I would really like to find this out, it may explain why Nunes is acting in such a bizarre fashion.

    When I look at the legal team Mueller has put together they are looking into much more than just the Russian interference in our election, think there going to be going after the donald and his friends for money laundering and bribes to foreign officials. The feds nailed the president of the company my wife works at for the bribing of foreign officials, I can’t believe the donald and family wasn’t involved in something similar.

    The money laundering theory comes form the 90’s and the donalds failed Atlantic City casinos. The donald couldn’t borrow money from American banks so where else did the money come from to buy the buildings? My theory goes something like this:
    1 the donald “borrows” money from Russian banks meaning Russian mobsters because from what I can tell the Russian banks are even more crooked than the large American banks – and that’s saying something.
    2 Casinos up and running the donald sells stock to pay back the Russian loans – keeping of course a hefty chunk for himself.
    3. Presto money now laundered and casinos fail – come on now it was the 90s how the hell did a casino fail if not due to complete and utter neglect of the customers.
    4 Casinos go into bankruptcy and the donald walks away with millions for a fee

    The other thing that makes me think there is money laundering involved is that lots of the folks that buy and live in his properties seem to have ties to Russian organized crime.
    Any one see any holes in this?

  61. Hey, here’s a thought: Could we somehow persuade Unca Donald that running the U.S. is chump change, and the real money’s in running the UN? Then convince all the world’s leaders to elect him as the Secretary General? At least he couldn’t do any real harm in that position.

    OK, perhaps it’s too early for that much bitter cynicism. More sugar in the next mug of coffee.

  62. @Greg. Saying Trump won’t resign because resigning means admitting failure is like saying Trump won’t declare bankruptcy for the same reason.

    You’re right that he won’t admit failure. But if he resigns, it will be a declaration of victory and/or victimization, i.e., someone else’s fault. He’s already being treated worse than any other politician in history.

    Trump will win in his own mind. He’ll probably even win in many ways that make defeating him (to those–myself included–who want to see him defeated) feel a little hollow).

  63. P.I.Neapple, you may think that Comey is not a politician but there are many others who disagree (e.g. the Washington Times.

    He is indisputably a lawyer and attorney-client privilege is a lot more flexible than you and Techgrrl1972 would have it be. In any case, I did not claim that attorney-client privilege would apply; I stated the fact that those on Trump’s team would make the claim (as indeed they have, after a fashion). So don’t get upset at me. Save your ire for Team Trump, of which I am emphatically not a part.

  64. “No one — no one — believes Trump more than they believe Comey.”

    I have a hundred Facebook comments that say you’re wrong.

  65. JohnD. – and the Washington Times’ is wrong as well. The FBI director, whether an active member of any bar or not, DOES NOT represent the president. The FBI director is a law enforcement officer – a cop.

    The director is not a prosecutor, a defense attorney, or anything else. Pretending otherwise is simply pretense.

    Likewise, a politician is one who is elected to office. Director of the FBI is an appointed position.

    So, no.

  66. No impeachment? Crap. On what other occasion can I wear my glittery impeachment pants with my glittery combat boots?

  67. And while everyone is focusing on the Trump Dumpster Fire (TM), the destruction of O’care is happening in the Senate with few people noticing. The Republicans need Trump as a diversion. Once they’ve passed a few more things they want, they’ll impeach him. Not before.

  68. Dear JohnD,

    No. You are simply wrong about this. There is no plausible legal argument for attorney-client privilege between Comey and Trump because Comey is in no way acting in his capacity as an attorney. Director of the FBI is not an “attorney” job. He has no position within the administration (nor has he been retained publicly nor privately by anybody within the Trump administration) in which he functions as an attorney. The fact that he happens to be an attorney is irrelevant. My sister and two of my girlfriends are attorneys. Do you think my conversations with them, on ANY subject, are covered by attorney-client privilege, unless we are actually operating within an attorney-client relationship? I hope you know better.

    Stop repeating nonsense. Yes, of course the Trump administration will claim this. Yes, their lapdogs at the Washington Times will back them up. Haven’t you yet noticed that these people lie about the most trivially disprovable matters? This one at least has a modicum of subtlety to it, and they are using it to cast doubt among the ignorant.

    You are feeding the troll. Don’t feed the troll.

    ~~~~

    Dear folks,

    On this whole business of impeachment, please don’t forget that the priority for BOTH parties is to stay in power. They both believe (to paraphrase the chairman of GM) that “What is good for the Democratic/Republican party is good for the nation.” Which is putting the cart before the horse, and it’s one of the several reasons the founding fathers were not big on political parties, but it’s what we’ve got. It’s not about who has the bigger moral compass or who’s getting what they deserve. Although I am thrilled to see the Republicans in disarray for a change, after living through two decades of Democrat fuckups. But that’s schadenfreude. It’s got nothing to do with the politics of impeachment.

    The Republicans will not impeach Trump until they think they can survive it… Or at least come out of it no worse than if they don’t impeach him. Impeaching the president of your own party is pointing a loaded gun at your head. With a 25%-fanatical-Republican voting base who will follow Trump off a cliff and demonstrate that with their votes, there’s pretty much a bullet in every chamber. If the Republicans were to call for impeachment tomorrow, their control wouldn’t survive the next election. Depending on how ballistic the Tea Party faction went, their party might not survive (although it’s damned hard to kill a party these days).

    The point is, this is not about “doing the right thing.” So far as either party is concerned, they ARE doing the right thing — Trying to stay in control.

    As the avalanche continues, I see two paths to impeachment. The first is that pre-midterm polling looks so disastrous, or the actual midterms are so disastrous, for the Republicans that jettisoning Trump minimizes the damage. Could happen.

    The second is the Trump revelations and new missteps ultimately proved so egregious that there’s pretty much unanimity in private among the Republicans, including the Tea Party fanatics, that they want to be rid of him. This consensus is necessary to avoid splitting the party in irreparable ways.

    If such broad consensus appears, only a handful of Republican congresspeople, the ones in the very safest districts, need to vote for impeachment since the Democrats will be totally on board. That gives the individual representatives and the party as a whole the coverage it needs to survive the backlash.

    The Senate requires two-thirds to convict, but the same calculus still applies, and Senators on average can afford to take a longer view. As with the house, only a minority of Republicans need to vote for impeachment and it can be the ones in the very safest districts.

    Yeah, yeah, I know: this all sounds very venal and Machiavellian. This is politics and it’s about staying in office and keeping the party in control. Do not forget (see above) that from their perspective that is, in fact, “doing the right thing.” You and I may not agree, but that doesn’t count for squat.

    – Pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  69. P.S. Forgot this — sorry. If the Republicans go route number two, the Party can even be “officially” against impeachment in their public presentation. There can be some woeful handwringing theater about how sad it is it came to this, and it wasn’t really what they wanted, but there were these representatives who felt really strongly about it and you know, we have this big tent going… Yes, false piety and hypocritical and cynical, and your point is? If it sells, it stays. (And no I don’t mean this as a dig against the Republicans — if the roles were reversed, I’d expect the Democrats to do the same thing. It’s smart politics.)

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