Comey Testimony Was a Ratings BOOM

For political geeks, it was Must-See TV.

The viewership numbers are in for the Senate Intelligence Committee testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, and they are rather impressive. They’re especially impressive when you consider it was mid-morning on a weekday.

According to Nielson data, approximately 19.5 million viewers tuned in to hear what the ousted Comey would say.

The winner of the day, as far as ratings, was ABC, with 3.3 million tuning in from 10am to 1pm.

CBS was a close second.

Also:

Fox News led among cable outlets, with 3.1 million viewers, while CNN scored first in the younger 25 to 54-year-old demographic coveted by advertisers, followed by NBC and ABC.

This should come as no surprise. The buildup to Comey’s Thursday morning testimony was the equivalent of a heavyweight title fight.

In the heat of the congressional probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Comey became a key player, and politicos breathlessly awaited to see if he would deliver a bombshell, right into President Trump’s lap.

The expected bombshell didn’t come, with only a few surprises.

The knowledge that Comey leaked details of his own memos through a friend to the media, in order to prompt a special investigator to take over is probably the biggest news.

A close second may be that Trump asked all of his advisers and aides to leave the room, before asking Comey to let former national security adviser Michael Flynn go.

According to Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior aide Jared Kushner hesitated, lingering as if they knew this was a bad idea, but Trump brushed them out. At that point, he asked Comey if he could see his way clear to let Flynn go.

More than anything, it prompts the question as to why Flynn was so important to Trump, that he would go to those lengths, put himself in awkward, potentially illegal positions, in order to try and make it happen.

As happened with the panel of officials on Wednesday, Comey declined to answer many questions in an open setting, preferring to keep the meat of his answers for the closed meetings.

I’m sure viewers were expecting more, and depending on whose team you’re on, some are celebrating this as either a victory for Trump or an ominous sign of more to come.

Smart money says to reserve judgment until all those called to give testimony have spoken, and all the closed door hearings are conducted. We’re a long way from the end.

In the meantime, fingers crossed for no new eruptions from the White House. Our nation can’t move forward under the weight of this much dysfunction.

Comey Leaker Richman Donated to Dem. Rep. Esty, Who Defended Comey on Facebook

Daniel Richman, the man to whom former FBI Director James Comey slipped his personal C.Y.A. memos recording his every interaction with President Donald Trump, gave $250 to Rep. Elizabeth Esty‘s campaign in 2011.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It’s all good between friends and Democrats. In the photo above, that’s Esty sitting during the ridiculous Democrat no-gun tweet-campout on the House floor (literally) sitting next to Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Joe Courtney.

That’s the only campaign donation in excess of $100 recorded by OpenSecrets.org for the Columbia Law professor who leaked former FBI Director James Comey’s memos to the New York Times.

Esty, a Democrat representing Connecticut’s 5th district, had this to say about Comey’s testimony on Facebook:

Director Comey’s testimony confirmed many of the most troubling news reports about President Trump’s conduct, including that President Trump may have inappropriately interfered with an FBI investigation into a former member of his administration. Director Comey’s testimony that President Trump sought ‘loyalty’ from the FBI Director and may have expected preferential treatment in exchange for keeping him in his post is also profoundly disturbing. Congress and the Department of Justice must continue their dogged pursuit of the facts, wherever they lead.

 

Esty recorded everything she gleaned from Comey’s Senate testimony, except a few minor details.

Like these:

  • At least one of the memos were written on a classified laptop;
  • Comey asked Richman, a personal friend, to leak to keep himself out of the news “for a variety of reasons”;
  • He did this in the hopes that a special counsel would be appointed

And of course, voila, we have a special counsel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Of course, Esty didn’t mention any of it. But she did take Richman’s money.

Mr. Comey Director of Interpretations

“”It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….” President Bill Clinton 1998

 Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, James Comey might have exposed the height of his self-righteous hubris today. While he appeared self-serving and mean-spirited in his bitter recriminations toward his former boss, he also abandoned all pretense of intellectual honesty when he ventured into the mechanics of phraseology interpretation. Indeed, his bald-faced arrogant superiority in the face of so many missteps over the past year was truly stunning.

To set the stage, Mr. Comey repeated conversations he had with the President regarding the FBI investigation of General Flynn. According to Mr. Comey, the President expressed “hope” that the Director could see his way clear to bringing the Flynn investigation to an end. According to Mr. Comey, this is a direct quote from the President: (Politico)

I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go.

Mr. Comey stated his interpretation of Mr. Trump’s statement was that this was a Presidential Directive: (Politico)

I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

These statements by the President have been out in the public for several days now. This has given brilliant legal minds such as Allen Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley the opportunity to weigh in on whether the President crossed the line into obstruction of justice by expressing his personal hope: (Fox News)

 Former FBI Director James Comey’s written statement, which was released in advance of his Thursday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, does not provide evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice or any other crime. Indeed it strongly suggests that even under the broadest reasonable definition of obstruction, no such crime was committed. The crucial conversation occurred in the Oval Office on February 14 between the president and the then director. According to Comey’s contemporaneous memo, the president expressed his opinion that General Flynn “is a good guy.” Comey replied: “He is a good guy.” The president said the following: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this thing go.” The Comey statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguard in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.

In The Hill, Jonathan Turley writes yesterday: (The Hill)

First and foremost, I am perfectly willing to accept Comey’s account in this hearing. However, even accepting those representations as true, they did not describe a crime or an impeachable offense. Comey confirmed that Trump actually agreed that it would be a good idea for the Russian investigation to go forward and not be terminated artificially. Comey also confirmed that Trump only express a “hope” that the Flynn investigation would end — a statement that Trump made repeatedly publicly. He also confirmed that Trump was primarily asking him to make public what he had already told Congress — that he was not under personal investigation.

It seems Mr. Comey is on an island by himself with his personal definition of “hope”, which might be explained away by his personal animus more than his lack is intellect.

Now, contrast that with how he answered the President, when requested to make a public statement that the FBI wasn’t investigating him, and with his interpretation of that comment: (Politico)

FEINSTEIN: You told the president, I would see what we could do. What did you mean?

Mr. Comey’s reply:

COMEY: It was kind of a cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him, we’re not going to do that. That I would see what we could do. It was a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and then I turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general.

Mr. Comey described that answer as basically a brush-off, to avoid saying the hard thing.

We have all heard this reply more than we’d like. It can be taken at face value.  Most accept its literal meaning to be:, “I will find out what I can do to assist you.” Often, upon hearing that reply, one comes away with optimism that something will get accomplished. The timing and means might not be clear, but limited optimism can be inferred. At the least, one can expect the person to look into giving assistance to the request.

But Mr. Comey. He expects you to take his interpretation at face value. Forget the fact that this could be understood as leading the President on, forget the fact that Mr. Comey could have just said “No Sir, I can’t do that.”. Mr. Comey deferred with a comment that wouldn’t and couldn’t be met with argument.

Mr. Comey can’t have it both ways. He can’t convince us “hope” means anything but hope; and he certainly can’t convince us he wasn’t shoveling a bit of manure toward the President in his reply. Perhaps Mr. Comey would have been better served riding off into the sunset, knowing this manufactured sordid mess will eventually come to a conclusion, and allowing history to settle the matter. Instead he has shown himself to be a small and petty man during this episode, much to the dismay of many former admirers.

The FBI can do better than this. The FBI needs to do better than this. Over the past year, this man has been shown to himself to be duplicitous, slippery and treacherous, wanting only to hold on to his job and willing to do whatever it takes to do that. One can only “hope” Christopher Wray rights the FBI ship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even Chris Matthews Sees Comey’s Testimony As Undermining the Resistance

For the entirety of the Trump presidency we have been bombarded with fake news stories about President Donald J. Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton and bogus claims that President Trump was under FBI Investigation all pushed by the leaders of the so-called Resistance — politicians and the biased media wing of the Democrats’ Party.

The Washington Examiner reports, that thanks to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, even the ever Liberal Chris Matthews declarers that the anti-Trump conspiracy theories of the resistance “came apart.”

In his written and spoken testimony on Thursday, Comey said that he never felt that Trump had tried to impede the FBI’s investigation into Russia, even that the president had encouraged it and he suggested that former national security adviser Mike Flynn wasn’t at the heart of the investigation. Comey also confirmed that he had told Trump that he was not personally under any investigation and that the president had encouraged the Russia investigation, even if it implicated any of his associates.

You can watch the MSNBC video of Chris Matthews comments or read a partial transcript published by Real Clear Politics below

Partial Transcript:

The bigger story, Nicole touched on it there, the assumption of the president’s critics, his pursuers you might say, is that some time in the last year, the president had something to do with colluding with the Russians –something to do, a helping hand, to feeding their desire to affect the election in some way. Some role they played. Some conversation with Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort.

 

But yet what came apart this morning was that theory.

 

Two regards, the president said, according to the written tell me of Mr. Comey: Go ahead and get anybody satellite to my operation and nail them. I’m with you on that. That would mean Manafort, Carter Page, somebody like that.

 

And then what was fascinating, Comey said that basically Flynn wasn’t central to the Russia investigation, that he was touching on it. Of course, Flynn wasn’t honest in the answering of the official forms to become national security head, but they only touched on that, that it wasn’t related to that but that he could be flipped for that. In other words, they could flip him because they had him on something he dishonestly answered, but it wasn’t central to the Russia thing.

 

I always assumed what Trump was afraid of he had something to Flynn and Flynn could be flipped on that, and Flynn would testify against the president that he had some conversation with Flynn in terms of dealing with the Russians affirmatively. And if that’s not the case, where’s the there there?

 

Indeed, Where is the there there?

Donald Trump Actually Is a Serial Liar. That is a Real Problem After the Comey Testimony.

I don’t believe Donald Trump obstructed justice. From what I know of him, he is a loyal guy who expects loyalty. Mike Flynn gave it so the President inquired as to whether the FBI could go elsewhere. The FBI did not. The investigation is ongoing. From James Comey’s own mouth we know the Flynn investigation was not even central to Russia. In fact, we know from Comey that President Trump told him to pursue the Russian investigation, thus ending a Democrat talking point.

But we also know James Comey thinks President Trump is a liar and we also know President Trump lies regularly. President Trump will contradict himself within two clauses of a single sentence and demand you believe both mutually contradictory things. That matters now more than ever because the President says he never asked Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation and Comey says he did.

Who are you going to believe? The partisan left will believe Comey. The partisan GOP will believe Trump. The rest of the country? A large portion do not even care, but the President only won because he convinced 70,000 people in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that he was not as bad as Clinton.

What do they now think? Polling suggests it is not the President they will believe and we should all remind ourselves that polling in 2016 was actually pretty good. Clinton did win the popular vote, as the polls said she would.

The President is a liar who routinely lies and more and more people are choosing not to believe him.

Of course, the President’s greatest weapon against this is the press itself. Because as much as the President lies, so too does the press. In fact, the press has retracted and corrected so many stories about the President and the various angles of scandal that many people trust the press less than the President. Just the other day members of the press claimed Comey would dispute the claims about the President being under investigation, but Comey actually agreed that the President is not under investigation.

But the result of this is that the public will latch on to Comey as the honest broker. He threw Loretta Lynch under the bus in the hearing and Democrats are now objecting to that. He threw the President under the bus and Republicans are objecting to that. Comey masterfully made himself look like the only honest man in the room, which some will see as him actually being the one liar in the room. That both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate committee treated him with great deference will mean a lot to the inquiring voters trying to decide what is going on. If there are at least 70,001 of those, the President is in trouble.

We’re dealing with a President who routinely lies, is disliked by more than half the population, and who has a growing number of his own party privately grumbling about 2018. While this is going on Democrats appear on the verge of picking up Newt Gingrich’s congressional district in Georgia — something that hasn’t happened since the seventies.

Here’s the cliff notes version of this story: it does not end well for the GOP.

The Lesson Of The Comey Hearings: Character Counts

 

 

James Comey’s testimony is not going to break the impasse in Washington and will satisfy neither side. Trump supporters are claiming that the president was exonerated because Comey did not claim that Trump ordered him to drop the Russia investigation and did not present an airtight accusation of obstruction of justice. Trump opponents point to the fact that Comey stood by his claim that the president asked him to drop the investigation of Mike Flynn and that such a request is unethical, even if it doesn’t clearly rise to the standard of obstruction of justice.

Whatever your opinion of the he said-he said dispute between Comey and Trump, the matter underscores just how wrong Trump supporters were about one thing: Character does still matter.

The fundamental question in the matter is who to believe. Do Americans trust the former FBI director with an axe to grind and a reputation for protecting himself politically or do they trust the sitting president with a casual regard for the truth, a man who has a reputation for saying whatever seems expedient at the moment and walking it back or pretending it was never said later.

When a president needs the benefit of the doubt from the country, as Trump does now, it helps if he has a good reputation. Trump does not. A Quinnipiac poll from May found that 61 percent say that Trump is not honest. When asked the first word that comes to mind about Donald Trump, the top three answers were “idiot” (39 percent), “incompetent” (31 percent), and “liar” (30 percent).

Right now, given the choice of whether to believe Donald Trump or James Comey, most Americans are going to believe Comey on the weight of their reputations. That Trump realizes this is evident by attempts to smear and discredit Comey with personal attacks. These attacks serve to make Trump look more guilty and there is a good chance that they will backfire disastrously for the administration.

The problem for Trump and the strategy of attempting to destroy Comey’s reputation is that Comey is likely to have evidence. Comey testified in his opening statement that he shared Trump’s comments with the senior leadership team of the FBI immediately after their dinner on January 27. If these other FBI agents corroborate Comey’s testimony, then Trump supporters are left in the unenviable position of either admitting that the president abused his authority and then lied about it or believing that Trump is telling the truth and everyone else is lying.

A second possibility is that Trump “taped” one or more of the meetings and that these tapes, if found and released, would show who is telling the truth. The odds are that it would not be Trump, given the rumors that Trump made similar requests of other intelligence officials.

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said at one point in his testimony. So do I, because that is likely to be the only way to prove the case to the Trump faithful. As if that would even do it.

Comey’s testimony won’t be enough to impeach Trump. The case for obstruction of justice is tenuous enough that it probably won’t persuade many Republicans in Congress to desert him.

What it will do is end his legislative agenda (such as it is). Gone is almost any chance of working across the aisle for health care reform, tax reform or the myriad other issues that are vital to the future of the country. It is looking more and more like Obamacare is here to stay thanks to President Trump’s poor judgment… along with the poor judgment of the voters who made him the Republican candidate.

Trump and Comey: Where Ignorance Meets the Law

It is pretty clear from James Comey’s testimony that the President crossed a line of abuse of power. He asked the FBI Director to stop the investigation into Mike Flynn. He jeopardized the independence of the FBI by pushing the FBI to declare the President was not under investigation. But despite the hysteria from the left, this does not appear to be obstruction of justice. It just appears to be the President abusing his power largely out of ignorance.

More and more it is striking that President Trump simply does not understand the parameters of his job. He is the Chief Executive Officer. There are some agencies that are quasi-independent agencies. Making demands of those in charge of such agencies, particularly on the law enforcement side, is not something the President should do. It is clear he simply does not know.

Compounding the problem, the President seems to pride himself on his ignorance. He has taken at face value that people rejected politics as usual and politicians as usual. He has doubled down on that and refuses to learn the boundaries and parameters of his job.

The level of partisanship in the country is so high you would be hard pressed to find a Democrat who thinks there has not been obstruction of justice. But you will be hard pressed to find a Republican who thinks Trump did anything wrong

In reality, just as Loretta Lynch should have never met with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump should have never had a private meeting with James Comey to ask him about winding down the Flynn investigation. There was no order to do so and no obstruction of justice.

But how long before there is? With a political party willing to turn a blind eye to the President’s vices and wave away everything he does that he should not, how long before the President and those around him really are emboldened to go far?

The President is not supposed to be king. He is not above the law. Congress is a co-equal branch of government. The Republicans there need to make sure the President knows there are boundaries, there are parameters, and if he does not learn them he needs to turn over the office to someone who will.

If your goal is to stop the left, all Trump is doing is both emboldening them and driving independent voters to them. Soon he will be a catalyst for a leftwing resurgence if Republicans do not sort this out themselves.

BREAKING: Comey’s Statement Paints a Worried, Clueless, Untrustworthy Trump

The Senate Intelligence Committee just published former FBI Director James Comey’s opening statement for tomorrow’s hearing, and it’s a damning document.

It’s not damning in the sense of President Trump committing a crime, or attempting to obstruct justice. There’s no evidence of that in Comey’s account.

What it does show is a president with no working knowledge of the FBI’s purpose, mandate, or value as an independent investigatory arm of the federal government. It shows a president whose understanding of what it means to be president is something akin to a king over a royal court. It shows a man obsessed with his personal image and relationships.

It shows a worried, thin-skinned, petty, and clueless man who doesn’t deserve the trust of those who operate in the public interest.

In short, it makes Trump look clueless, and that’s damning.

I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone.

Lawyers resort to memorializing every conversation immediately following in a few situations. One is when they meet one-on-one with clients who pay them for representation (for obvious reasons). Another is when they meet with other lawyers or parties in negotiation–typically these are short notes or emails to the other lawyer to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

A third scenario is when they are meeting one-on-one (without corroborating witnesses) with unreliable people, whose version of events may prove troubling in their work. Or when people in positions of power (such as politicians) attempt to manipulate or influence them improperly in such meetings. These memos are, in technical legal terms, called “C-Y-A” (I jest, but not too much).

Comey felt compelled to write a C-Y-A memo every time he interacted with President Trump. The head of the FBI felt that Trump was manipulative, using pretense to gain a “patronage relationship,” and ignoring every fence and guardrail of proper lines of communication to achieve a particular result.

My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.

At an oval office meeting on Feb. 14, attended by at least four high-ranking lawyers (Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Comey), the president dismissed everyone, including Comey’s boss, AG Sessions, to talk to Comey alone. Not only is this beyond awkward, it’s also completely improper.

Alone with Comey, Trump said he wanted to talk about Mike Flynn, who had resigned one day earlier.

The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information – a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.

The cringes and breath-holding in that hallway had to be excruciating. It paints a picture of a man whom everyone is scared to tell “this is a really bad idea,” lest they invite the rage of Poseidon on themselves.

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”

The president that Comey came to know better than the man who appointed him to office–President Obama–is, to him, a man who cannot be trusted. He’s a man who doesn’t know the boundaries of his own office, or the reason certain actions or statements are simply wrong or unethical.

To Comey, this is a man who values personal loyalty, relationships, and image over truth or integrity. Why else would Comey feel compelled to document, as close to the event as possible, every single conversation with Trump?

Whatever questions follow this positively devastating statement by Comey at Thursday’s hearing, every lawyer, government official, or potential appointee under Trump has to get the message. To paraphrase: Be careful dealing with this man, as he’s a worried, clueless, untrustworthy man who will try to manipulate you into compromising yourself.