The Highlights from Comey’s Testimony Before the Senate Intelligence Committee
The overall impression I was left with, after the hearing, was how the Republicans seemed much more concerned with Comey’s response to Trump’s attempt to obstruct justice, than Trump’s obstruction of justice. Several suggested that the fact he didn’t resign was an indication Trump did nothing wrong. This is an extension of the Republican view that if you are a victim of sexual harassment, you should resign, not the harasser. Despite much of the testimony indicating clear attempts by Trump to obstruct justice, Republican senators challenged James Comey more today than they have Donald Trump in nearly two years.
While the Republicans attacked, Trump remained silent, but other Republicans obviously had their talking points ready. Repeating the statements from Trump’s personal lawyer, they fixated of the fact Comey had told Trump he was not personally under investigation. Of course that only means Trump wasn’t under investigation then. In fact Comey confirmed that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice and that Mueller requested Comey’s memos from his meetings with Trump. Their alternate defense was that he is a moron who does not know anything about how the government works or proper investigation protocol. That is comforting. It is a lot more believable that he ran his business as a criminal enterprise and thinks he can run the government the same way. Being naïve does not explain why he asked everyone else to leave every the room every time he attempted to obstruct justice.
The Democrats mostly focused on Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice. There wasn’t a lot of new information in that area, but Comey’s testimony under oath confirmed previously reported leaks. Much of what he confirmed had been reffered to by the White House as fake news. Five times, Comey called Trump a liar. Notable instances were over his assertions that Comey had requested the dinner, that Comey had called him, and that Comey was not well-regarded at the FBI. “Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey says of the administration’s description of an FBI in disarray under him. The White House response was to lie and have Huckabee state that “the president is not a liar.
That was followed up by a statement from Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz. His statement was not under oath, and full of alternative facts. He accused Comey of “leaking” his personal memos to a friend, one of which was classified, and doing before Trump’s tweet, not in response to it. In reality, Comey only gave one of his memos, which was not classified, and did it four days after Trump’s tweet. He then called for Comey, a private citizen, to be investigated for this leak of his own personal documents. Kasowitz also claimed Comey lied when he said Trump asked him for his loyalty.
Below are a list of my highlights from Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Most Memorable Quote:
Comey: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes”
Comey said it was clear to the FBI leadership that Sessions would likely recuse himself, but refused to elaborate, saying some of the reasons are classified. He added that the FBI was aware of facts that would make AG Sessions’ continued involvement in Russia probe “problematic.
Comey wrote his memos in an unclassified manner on purpose, so it could be widely shared and discussed across the government.
Comey: I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation and he wanted to relieve the pressure.
Comey says he cannot comment on whether dossier is being investigated now or other aspects of ongoing investigation.
Comey said Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice
Comey: “There were variety of defensive briefings given to the incoming administration on risks of interacting with Russian ambassador.”
Comey: “I want the American people to know this truth: The FBI is honest, strong, and always will be independent”
Comey says it is up to special council to decide if Trump was obstructing, but characterizes Trump’s behavior as “disturbing”
Burr asked if there is any truth to the Steele Dossier? Comey stated he couldn’t respond in an open session because the answer involves details of the investigation.Comey: “I was honestly concerned that Trump would lie about the nature of our meeting so I had to document it.”
Comey: “The statute of justice has a blindfold because you’re not supposed to be peeking out to see whether your patron is pleased or not.”
Comey makes clear, there was no counter-intelligence investigation into Trump. He did not say that about potential for a criminal investigation.
Rubio asked, “Ever wonder why the only thing that has not been leaked is the fact that Trump was not under investigation?” Obviously Little Marco got two scoops of ice cream with his chocolate cake when he had dinner with Trump at the WH on Tuesday evening.
Comey: “I got the sense my job would be contingent on how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.”
Wyden: Was VP Pence aware of the concerns about Flynn? Comey: “My understanding is that he was” from acting AG Yates.
Comey: After Trump tweeted about “tapes”, I asked close friend to share contents of a memo on Trump with a reporter
Comey: “There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election.. Unfake as you can possibly get”
Comey: “Why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office?… That to me as an investigator is a very significant fact”
Comey laughs when asked if he initiated the Trump dinner. “He called me at my desk at lunchtime, asked if I was available that night.”
Cotten: Did you or any FBI agent sense that Mr. Flynn attempted to deceive you? Comey: “That was the subject of the criminal inquiry.”