Friday, June 9, 2017 at 7:16 AM

Comey’s Testimony Had All the Suspense of Yesterday’s News

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The media used allusions to the Super Bowl to hype former FBI director James Comey’s testimony today before the Senate Intelligence Committee. As it played out, though, sports fans could be forgiven for feeling duped. Granted, the suckers who flocked to local bars to watch, as if it were a big game, could at least drown their disappointment in alcohol.

But, foremost, the Committee’s release of his opening statement yesterday had an anticlimactic effect. Because the media picked it apart – complete with political pundits and legal analysts stripping it of any meaty suspense, like hyenas devouring a gazelle.

As former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, it’s useful to bear two things in mind: What he’s describing isn’t normal. And it isn’t going away.

In a written statement released before his appearance, Comey depicted a disturbing sequence of events related to the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. President Donald Trump repeatedly asked Comey to pledge his loyalty, requested that he state publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation, and suggested that he drop a probe into Michael Flynn, the erstwhile national security adviser. Comey declined on all counts, and Trump fired him not long afterward.

(Bloomberg News, June 8, 2017)

Frankly, I suspect only political junkies like me found his testimony interesting. Yet even for me, watching it was rather like watching my favorite suspense movie, Psycho, for the 100th time. In fact, the only thing that had any dramatic effect worthy of the hype was when Comey declared:

After all, given the famously bullying, threatening tweet it pertained to, Comey was clearly calling Trump’s bluff:

Of course, Trump is probably storing those “tapes” in the same rabbit hole where he stored that infamous birth certificate, which he claimed for years proved that Barack Obama was born in Kenya …

Beyond this, my related commentaries are replete with facts about Trump that presaged many of Comey’s claims. Those commentaries include “WTF! President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” November 10, 2016, “Trumpasites Already Gagging on Big Lies and Outrageous Pledges They Swallowed,” January 29, 2017, “Channeling Nixon, Trump Fires FBI Director,” May 9, 2017, and “Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate Trump-Russia Ties. Checkmate!” May 18, 2017.

Not to mention that nothing was more predictable than Republicans on the Committee acting like defense attorneys for Trump and Democrats like character witnesses for Comey. Regrettably, this is the nature of partisanship in Washington these days – the integrity of the presidency, even the welfare of the country, be dammed. (I hasten to note that, if Trump were a Democrat, the roles Committee members played would’ve been perfectly reversed.)

But, apropos of presaging, here’s what I wrote in a text exchange with an old friend this morning – before the hearing convened:

Most interesting will be seeing how wannabe presidents on the [committee] showboat for what could be the biggest audience they’ll have before 2020: Rubio vs Harris.

As things played out, Marco Rubio (R-FL) clearly did more to tow his party’s line (that Trump did nothing wrong) than Kamala Harris (D-CA) did to tow hers (that Trump obstructed justice). To be fair, the black Harris was probably still smarting from the way the white chairman of this Committee chastised her – as if she were a naughty schoolgirl – when she persisted (as white male members always do) in demanding answers from witnesses during a related hearing yesterday.

But I’m embarrassed to admit that I have no idea whether this will advance Rubio’s presidential ambitions or hamper hers. What I do know is that this inside-Washington parlor game (of watching senators shamelessly positioning themselves for a presidential run) is far from over.

That said, if you only caught the opening statements of (aforementioned) Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), you would have gotten all there was to get out of this hearing. If you watched the whole thing, however, you were probably utterly bemused watching John McCain (R-AZ). Because his comments and questions were as murky and mumbling at the end of this hearing as Burr and Warner’s were clear and concise at the beginning.

In any event, despite all the hype, Comey’s testimony today was more like an undercard to a heavyweight fight. That fight features Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller investigating all matters related to alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Putin’s Russia.

More to the point, even Comey made clear that, if anybody is going to land a knockout blow against Trump, it’s this special prosecutor, not some congressional committee. Which is why, despite the lack of commensurate media hype, “it’s Mueller time!”

Trust me, Robert Mueller will interrogate Trump under oath – just as Ken Starr famously interrogated Clinton. That’s where the real effect of Comey’s testimony will be felt. Because Trump is a pathological liar. And Comey set so many perjury traps for him that Trump trying to escape one will be like a rat trying to escape a den of cheese-filled mousetraps.

Finally, Trump’s flaks are trying to spin this as just a case of “he said, he said.” Don’t buy into that cliché. Because Trump calling Comey a liar is not pot calling kettle black; it’s pot calling white bone china black.

Related commentaries:
Trump demanded Comey’s loyalty
Robert Mueller special prosecutor
Trump’s birther admission

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Thursday, at 4:39 p.m.

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