Thoughts on the Comey Hearing

Today’s post will be brief because my husband is having a surgical procedure this morning (outpatient and cringe-worthy, since it requires cutting into his eyeball, but not major or life-threatening). I’ll return, undoubtedly in full verbose mode, tomorrow.

I have very little to add to the mountains of commentary that issued before, during and after Comey’s testimony. I’m not a criminal lawyer, was never a prosecutor (when I did practice law, I drafted contracts and mortgages and articles of incorporation), so my grasp of the fine points of obstruction of justice law is worse than imperfect.

With those caveats, a couple of observations:

  • Love him or hate him, James Comey is a professional with a reputation for integrity. He understands how to navigate Washington and how to speak to a camera, and his calm professionalism was on consistent display. His responses were forthright, but never exaggerated or over-reaching. He was neither defensive nor evasive. His entire performance was impressive.
  • The question whether Trump engaged in obstruction of justice will inevitably require interpreting the President’s statement to Comey that he “hoped” the investigation of Flynn could be dropped. Senator Risch questioned whether a Presidential “hope” could really be considered a directive, although Comey responded that–given the context–he took it to be. Both Times reporter Charlie Savage and Senator Angus King responded with the perfect analogy: “I hope” is like the famous line Henry II uttered about Thomas Becket, which his minions understood to be a direction to murder him: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”
  • Senator John McCain has passed his “sell by” date.
  • Judging from the reactions of Paul Ryan and other luminaries of what passes for the Republican party these days, patriotism of the sort displayed by Eliot Richardson, William Ruckleshaus, then-Senator Barry Goldwater and others during Watergate is long gone. It evidently eloped with those other bygone  qualities, honor and integrity.

The United States placed a dangerously ignorant, clearly incompetent, unstable man in the Oval Office. We’ve known that. What we didn’t know, and are slowly discovering, is the degree to which the members of his party value power over country.


  1. After decades of Hate Radio, Lie TV (Fox) and Tea Party boobs going to Washington, this is where it leads. Good luck to all of us

  2. When Trump goes, and he will go, it will take a month to fumigate the White House.

    Meanwhile, I’m wondering what all is going on over at the FBI. How is the grand jury thingy going? Have the agents broken any of the suspects? Flipped Manafort? Worked a deal with Flynn? When will the first indictments come out, and when will we see a perp walk from the White House? Are Ivanka and Jerad packing up the china? Does Bannon have an escape plan?

    The whole damn bunch better have Saul’s number on speed dial.

  3. Sheila; my thoughts and prayers are with Bob, his medical team and you. I had cataract removal and lens implants in both eyes 12 years ago; your term “cringe-worthy” is on target regarding this procure. I do hope, like myself, Bob’s time spent thinking (cringing) about the surgery was much worse than the procedure and recovery.

    The Comey hearing was difficult to watch at times due to determination of Republican Senators to defile him and his service to this country and uphold our Liar-in-Chief. Mr. Comey spoke directly, eloquently and his facts have been steadfast throughout the wait for this hearing. The woman Senator who compared the Flynn conversation from Trump with an armed robber holding a gun to your head and “hoping” you will hand over your wallet was the best comparison possible to such bizarre conversation with a sitting president.

    Senator Manchin’s questioning if Trump questioned anything about the Russian investigation during all conversations with Comey, and his response that the president did not, speaks volumes. He didn’t need to ask questions; he has all the answers and Tweets his “alternative facts” hoping to cover it up like a cat in a litter box.

    How long will this procedure at all levels of our government last? Obviously; Trump cannot be ousted until legal action with full proof of his and his party’s guilt is proven. This is a heavy burden to place on Mr.Mueller and his assistants; there is more than Donald Trump at issue, the survival of our nation is in Mr. Mueller’s hands.

  4. We also learned that there may be another, yet unreported, contact between Sessions and a Russian. That’s at least three people who are guilty of felonies. Who will sing first and who will sing loudest?

  5. I found it telling that several of the most antagonistic questioners made pointed reference to stories from the NYT and WaPo that Mr. Comey characterized as “wrong” or “in the main” untrue. The email issue was distraction and diversion or, in the case of Sen. McCain, confused and illogical.
    I was stunned to listen as Mr. Comey called DT a liar, directly and by inference many times. I was disheartened and embarrassed by the performance of some of the committee members who were actively questioning the integrity of Mr. Comey.
    The other point was the response by DT’s lawyer who called Mr. Comey a liar. That was of interest because he quoted from the Comey memo, identifying “lies”. Either he has access to hard evidence of those lies or he is repeating DT’s own responses. In either case, he has accused Mr. Comey of perjury, as he testified under oath.
    IMO, the DT supporters will double down in response. It is very hard to admit that you have been made a fool.
    I would have loved to be in the room for the closed hearing. The extent to which the Russian state interference in our elections has been and likely will continue would probably shock us. DT loves to brag about his great relationship with Putin, the “opportunist” as Sen. King described him. Perhaps we can understand DT’s admiration as self-reflective.

  6. First of all, I sincerely hope that your husband’s surgery goes far better than expected and that he has a trouble free and speedy recovery.

    Secondly, thanks so much for this piece. As usual, it is spot on, particularly in regard to the contemporary GOP leadership in dealing with this man and the colossal mess he is making. The days of having statesmen in the GOP as exemplified by those that stood up to Richard Nixon is, indeed, long gone. What we have today are extremely pale, barely visible, shadows of what existed in the early 1970’s at the height of Watergate.

  7. Well, as the media continues to report everything like a sports event, let’s go to the videotape and check the scoreboard. Number of times Donald Trump has lied vs. number of times Mr Comey has lied? Trump’s way ahead. If I hear one more tv broadcaster say it’s a question of “he said; he said” — as if the score was tied in the bottom of the ninth inning — I’ll rip my hair out.

  8. During the hearing did anyone else hear Comey say something to the effect that Pence also knew or was aware of Flynn’s issues before Flynn was appointed? I took that to mean that Pence cannot claim innocence or ignorance.

    While I would love to see Pence go down with Trump, the possibility of Ryan becoming president is equally as frightening.

  9. There were an awful lot of questions asked of Comey that he declined to answer due to the ongoing investigation or that the info is classified.

    If we go back and read the transcripts of the hearing we can uncover exactly where this investigation is headed, who is being investigated and the reasons they are being investigated.

    The hearing was very informative. I appreciated Comey and some of the committee members stating that there could not be a better person than Robert Mueller to get to the bottom of this entire mess. I just wonder how long the process will take, as it seems there are many avenues and people that need to be investigated. The sooner, the better.

  10. Memory plays funny tricks on old people … of which I happen to be one. Like most senior citizens, I was hypnotized by the Watergate hearings and would have sworn they lasted only a few months. Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when one of the TV newscasters reminded everyone that the Watergate hearings lasted more than a year.

    Even though I would like to see the Fake President Trump run out of Washington at a high rate of speed, I have a feeling this thing is going to last forever or longer. We’ll all be forced to keep track of the number of lies Trump can tell between now and the time he’s kicked out of the White House kicking and screaming. Nixon will be rolling over in his grave. I hope I won’t be.

  11. Yesterday was an important day. Remember McConnell intends to use Comey as a distraction while he rams the awful Trump lack of health care through.
    Blessings on your husband’s procedure, on you, and on the drs

  12. Nancy; wonder if Pence would swear on the Bible that he knew nothing about anything pertaining to Russia…or connections to Manafort, Flynn, Sessions or Trump? A test of his Christianity which would not be covered by the oath sworn to in these hearings or investigations.

  13. Hope the procedure went well and you’re both home resting now.

    As I watched the hearings, I was impressed with Comey as well. Calling the president a liar and wanting to take notes while it’s fresh in his mind is something I applaud. I’ve done the same. Then as McCain’s turn came up, I promptly fell asleep, just like him! I woke up at the gavel noise and had to rewind to view it. He’s is done too and he has 5.5 yrs of his term left. Ms McSally is trying to get appointed to his seat, I believe.

    Mother is home, I’m back home and you all have a good weekend.

  14. JoAnn,

    Pence’s claim of ignorance is no excuse and I don’t believe it for one second. In his position he had access to all information about everyone. Heck, he was the Head of the transition team. However, we have seen many times that he is more than willing to sell his soul for power – all while lying by claiming that he is a Christian.

    I have no doubt that he would be willing to swear on a bible that he is innocent.

    The more that I see about what goes on in Washington and how those in power can just claim ignorance or being a novice as an excuse for wrong doing has made me realize that any one of us is qualified for the highest position of power in this country. There is apparently no need whatsoever for any knowledge of how the government works or what is contained in our Constitution.

  15. I was in Europe during most of these goings on and thought that thinking about the history of Western Civilization a better investment of attention than it’s downfall. But we had to return to now.

    The circus will continue until Republicans conclude that defending Trump is more politically costly than dumping him. Then it will wrap up quickly with the GOP wounded but still standing. We will be stuck with Pence and a humbled Republican Party and hopefully a Congress restored to order. Not what we need but survivable by the Republic.

    While all of that occupies the press the opportunity to return to progress is still 2020 (BTW Sheila that’s what we all hope to be the result of your husbands surgery, 20/20) as well as the 2018 preliminaries.

    So far Trump has done nothing that is to me unexpected. The remaining danger is his reaction to the boot. The fact of his inability to forge allies makes that danger less but not zero.

  16. I knew we were in trouble when Richard Lugar couldn’t get re-elected. Even so, I am surprised that the GOP appears to be a party without a conscience or a strand of moral fiber. Certainly someone will say, “Enough!”

  17. Question: Would a reasonable person after listening to the president say, “I hope this goes away” understand this as a request to stop the investigation into Flynn? My belief is “Yes”. Would this not indicate an obstruction?

  18. I hope all went well with the procedure and that he’s comfortable. Best wishes to you and your husband.

  19. Obstruction may depend upon whether the phrase is “I hope you” as opposed to ” I hope that” in determining intent. I for one think they are congruent but as a prosecutor long ago never had a case involving obstruction of justice, so I am in the same boat with Sheila on that topic. I think there are other and better grounds for impeachment of this piece of protoplasm than obstruction, though I will take whatever I can get at this juncture.

  20. Hope all goes well for your husband. Also, lately I’ve been wondering about you and whether you have healed since your pelvis fracture. Hope you’re OK, too.

  21. Not only did the President get Comey alone to express his ” hope” he fired him for trumped up reasons. Then contradicted his trumped up reasons and admitted he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. Let’s not minimize Sally Yates earlier testimony that she informed Trump and Pence of Flynn involvement with several foreign governments and that involvement could compromise his loyalty

  22. Comey, though accurate in his testimony, is responsible for the Trump election. His announcement 11 days pre-election turned the polls dramatically. 8 days later, he said never mind. Turns out there was never a need for his first announcement except that he hated both Clintons. I consider him a despicable opportunist and wrote him a note saying exactly that.

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