It’s so easy to get lost in the forest of this ongoing Washington Russiagate scandal or whatever you might want to call it. One can hardly see the forest for all the trees.
Is President Donald Trump a liar? Is former FBI Director James Comey a liar?
Well, yes would seem the obvious answer to the first question, but an answer with little relevance. Truth is something nebulous and subject to change at a whim in Trump World. But everyone knew that all along, way before perhaps he was even a candidate for president.
Comey. Don’t know much about him except he has a reputation for being a straight arrow. But he seems to have a penchant for not being able to keep things confidential, something that is often important in crime investigation. First he goes and throws a monkey wrench into Hillary Clinton’s campaign for presidency by announcing she is being investigated over the email controversy. I personally don’t see how that was in his purview as a top cop and not a prosecutor — and prosecutors, unless I am wrong, don’t usually make announcements until there is an indictment. Anyway, then he strategically leaks info (by his own admission) so that it will go out in the news media and force the appointment of a special counsel to look into the Russia matter.
I do not feel sorry for Trump, but it shows one does not speak in confidence to Comey. If it would seem to benefit him, he will reveal. And Comey admits that the first of the two times he met in private with the president (then president-elect) it was his (Comey’s) own idea.
Now the idea stated or implied by Comey is that Trump tried to pressure him into dropping the Russian investigation and that when Comey refused Trump fired him.
Meanwhile the official line from Trump is that he never did try to urge Comey to drop the investigations.
While Comey supposedly took notes, despite an off-hand remark by Trump, there at this time seems no evidence of a tape recording of what was said between the two. Trump had, perhaps jokingly, suggested that Comey better hope there was no tape recording and Comey now in turn has said: “Lordy, I hope there is…”
“Lordy”? who says that anymore?
But getting away from the he said, he said, stuff, what we need to know is the extent of Russian involvement in our elections, everything from misinformation campaigns, to embarrassing (but true?) leaks from campaigns, to most sinister and dangerous of all, manipulation of the actual voting. While we have been assured at the federal level and by various state voting officials that no irregularities have surfaced, there was at least one story a few days ago that U.S. investigators have uncovered evidence of Russians attempting to hack into a voting program. And it does not take much to steal a presidential election (some electoral votes in the right states and you win the prize).
The focus should be on the integrity of our voting system. And I think it is in doubt.
And along with this, while it is unclear if there has been actual collusion between Trump and his supporters and family with the Russians, it seems the relationship with the Russians is all too cozy and is intermingled with politics and private business. To Trump et al. politics is just an extension of their own private business fortunes.
I’ll leave it to the lawyers to figure out whether Trump obstructed justice. I mean I have read that legal scholars differ on what the evidence shows so far.
Trump most likely did urge Comey to back off the Russia investigation but that alone is not necessarily obstruction. It might take more pressure than that. And yes, Trump did fire Comey. But he had the legal right to do so, even if he has told different stories as to the reasoning behind the firing.
Perhaps if the Russia scandal deepens and more substantive evidence shows collusion between Trump and his minions, then the Comey firing might be seen as obstruction of an actual high crime and misdemeanor and result in impeachment. And remember, “high crimes and misdemeanors” are not defined in the Constitution.
Russian interference, to the extent there is, seems to have nearly brought down both the governments in Washington and London by way of stirring up some strange and misguided populist revolt — misguided in that it seems to have no clear direction other than tearing institutions down and the security that comes from them.