Andrew C. McCarthy:
On March 30, 2017, by his own account, then-FBI director James Comey told President Donald Trump that Trump himself was not under investigation — the third time he had given him that assurance. In fact, Comey told Trump that he had just assured members of Congress that Trump was not a suspect under investigation.
Think about that.
This was fully six weeks after the then-director’s Oval Office meeting with the president, during which Comey alleges that Trump told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” Flynn, of course, is Michael Flynn, the close Trump campaign adviser and original Trump national-security adviser, whom Trump, with pained reluctance, had fired just the day before.
Interesting thing about that. Most of the time, when public officials obstruct an investigation, there is a certain obsessiveness about it. Because, in the usual situation, the official has been paid off, or the official is worried that the subject of the investigation will inculpate the official if the investigation is allowed to continue. There is great pressure on the official to get the case shut down.
But not Trump, he of the notoriously short attention span.
Trump was feeling remorse over Flynn. What he told Comey, in substance, was that Flynn had been through enough. A combat veteran who had served the country with distinction for over 30 years, and who had not done anything wrong by speaking with the Russian ambassador as part of the Trump transition, Flynn had just been cashiered in humiliating fashion. The one who had done the cashiering was Trump, and he was still upset about it.
That, obviously, is why he lobbied Comey on Flynn’s behalf. And as I have pointed out before, it was an exercise in weighing the merits of further investigation and prosecution that FBI agents and federal prosecutors do hundreds of times a day, throughout the country. That matters because, as their superior and as the constitutional official whose power these subordinates exercise, Trump has as much authority to do this weighing as did Comey — who worked for Trump, not the other way around.
The thing to notice, though, was that Trump never did it again. After Comey’s description of this February 14 encounter, the word “Flynn” never appears again in Comey’s written testimony. This appears to be the one and only time that Trump advocated on Flynn’s behalf.
If Trump was obstructing an investigation, he was awfully passive about it.
But Trump did not issue any such order. By the former director’s own account, the words Trump used left the decision about pursuing Flynn to Comey’s discretion — notwithstanding that, as chief executive, Trump had the legitimate authority to order Comey to close the case. Moreover, at the time these events actually happened, Comey took no action consistent with someone who understood himself to be under a directive by the president of the United States. He and the FBI continued the investigation.
Trump not only did not stop them from doing that. He never asked about the matter again. After the immediacy of the president’s anguish over having to fire his friend, Flynn seems to have faded from memory. Trump could have pardoned Flynn, he could have stepped in and ordered an end to the investigation at any time. He’s never done either.
Comey, meanwhile, also took no action consistent with someone who believed he had witnessed a crime. He now says he can’t say for sure whether it was or it wasn’t obstruction. But he is a highly experienced former prosecutor and investigator who has handled obstruction cases. He is an expert in this area of the law. At the time it happened, he did not report to his superiors at the Justice Department that the president had committed obstruction — although he would have been required to do that if he believed it had happened.
What about Congress? Did he report it to Congress, in whistleblower fashion?
Actually, he did the opposite.
On March 20, over a month after the Flynn conversation, Comey gave his stunning congressional testimony, pronouncing publicly that the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and that the probe included scrutinizing both the ties of Trump associates to the Putin regime and “any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian efforts.” The FBI, he darkly added, would make “an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”
Clearly, this led the media and much of the country to assume the FBI director had confirmed that the president was a suspect in what appeared to be a criminal investigation. It similarly alarmed lawmakers. Comey thus privately assured members of Congress that the president was not a suspect in any FBI investigation.
But he would not correct the misimpression being formed by the public, relying on his testimony.
Liberal fishing is going to continue until they gain power again. Democrats have already pledged this will go on into the next election. It’s all about losing, all about politics, all about bitterness and all about trying to destroy the country out of spite.
Yes, how can your obstruct… nothing?
So let’s see the President’s tax returns, which should dispel any silly notions that his businesses may so heavily backed by Russian investments that they’ve got leverage over him. Making them available would be nothing more than what he promised he would do during his campaign. Let’s be told in sworn statements what actually transpired at multiple secret meetings between Trump associates and various Russian officials.
If there’s nothing there to hide, why would someone attempt to discredit, impede, or obstruct anything? When you act guilty, you just give attentive people more reason to suspect that you probably are.
@Greg: I would think the first thing you transparency-obsessive liberals would want to see are the 33,000 State Department emails Hillary Bleachbit eradicated or the phones and laptops they destroyed with hammers before anyone learned the secrets of Hillary’s yoga lessons.
But, you think it would be a shocking revelation that Trump did business with Russians? He has done business all over the world. He’s been a businessman (before he was the Obama-antidote), not some shady politician peddling words and influence. I doubt his returns would show the who’s and wherefores, but NO doubt liberals would make smoke where there is none, then fan the imaginary flames into yet another time-wasting investigation… just like Russian collusion and “obstruction”.
The nation would be in far better shape if you liberals would just grow up.
Trump, as usual, told a distorted version of the story.
Clinton’s lawyer deleted some 31,830 personal emails which were not subject to the subpoena. Also, there’s nothing odd about destroying old cell phones when they’re replaced by newer devices—assuming you have any understanding concerning the potential for theft of private information should they fall into the wrong hands. I’ve removed and physically destroyed hard drives before giving away obsolete personal computers. I’ve also had first-hand experience with the problems that can arise from so simple a thing as losing a cell phone with contact list still on it. Fortunately the jackass who found it wasn’t smart enough to be much more than a minor annoyance, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Spinning the FBI Letter
Many of the people central to the Trump administration are suddenly hiring high-end personal lawyers, VP Pence included. They apparently know something is up that goes beyond empty, politically motivated accusations.
Hannity says the Mueller probe “should be shut down immediately.” That would be in the running for Worst Advice Ever Given—assuming there’s nothing being covered up. It’s too bad Hannity can’t be prosecuted for being a lying weasel. Rolling out the Uranium One bullshit yet again in the way of a tu quoque distraction is looking a bit pathetic.
Why is a person without security clearance allowed to go through those, some highly classified documents, and decide which are personal. Another breech of security the only thing she seemed very very good at setting aside selling influence, and robbing the Haitians.
Republicans are not the only ones hiring lawyers…are they? But not allowed to decide what is or isnt evidence.
Uh… she deleted them BEFORE there was a subpoena (though she knew she was required by law to preserve them). So, what we have is Hillary’s word that they were “personal” and we ALL know exactly what her word is actually worth.
No, there’s nothing odd about destroying communication devices; criminals destroying incriminating evidence all the time.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Hillary, who put all State Department communications on a secret, private, unsecured and permeable server was worried about the loss of information? She was only concerned with being CAUGHT.
Damn, Greg… you have quite the sense of humor. Almost as funny as Pelosi trying to pretend she is concerned about the violence her party is promoting.
Since the whiny, crybaby, sore loser left no longer needs an actual crime to attack someone with legal action, EVERYONE needs an attorney. Guilty until liberals get tired of lying is the new standard for Republicans.