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Questioning Comey, Senate Intelligence Committee members rise to the occasion

James Comey
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former FBI Director James Comey testifying before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Thursday.

On Thursday, with the whole world watching, James Comey prayed aloud:

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes," he told a crowded Senate hearing room, the whole world watching live on every news channel, and, perhaps the Lord, if you’re up there.

Comey’s prayer, of course, was for secret tapes that would contain a verbatim record of his Oval Office conversation with President Trump over a private White House dinner for the two.

Lordy, I hope so too. Either the former FBI director or the current POTUS is lying (or maybe both). The tapes might settle it.

When asked later in the day, White House spokester Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she had “no idea” whether there is a taping system in the White House, and, when pressed to inquire further into the matter, offered to “try to look under the couches.”

Seriously, how is that sarcasm helpful to anyone or anything.

Until such tapes are produced, we have one and a half accounts of what was said over dinner that night.

Comey’s account — which he offered live on TV all morning and into the afternoon to the Senate Intelligence Committee — is that Trump asked him several times for his loyalty; implied that a welcome act of loyalty would be to drop the investigation into the undisclosed Russia ties of his former national security advisor, which the president said would remove a “cloud” over the presidency; and gave Comey the distinct impression (short of an explicit threat) that Trump would very likely fire him if he didn’t take the hint.

To be clear, neither man claims that Trump explicitly threatened to fire him.

But Comey, as you may have heard, didn’t take the hint and was fired, so summarily that he found out about it by watching TV. According to Comey, the conversation over dinner with the current incumbent was sufficiently unsettling that, right after he left the White House, he typed out his recollections of it on a laptop, for the record. In fact, Comey had developed a habit of typing up his immediate recollection after all interactions with Trump.

He told the committee today that he did this, basically, because he considers Trump a liar and wanted to be in a position to defend himself with the most accurate possible record of what passed between himself and Trump. 

In the absence of a covert taping system, those notes may be the best record we have of what occurred. The other version, which I called a half-version above, was given by the president himself, on May 11, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt. A couple of days after firing Comey, Trump told Holt of the dinner, which he claimed Comey had requested, even though he also claimed that Comey told him at the dinner that he, the president, was not personally under investigation in the inquiry into Russian interference in the last election.

Despite that happy news (and Comey has confirmed that he did tell Trump that he was not at that time a target of the Russia investigation), Trump said he fired Comey because Comey was “a showboat.” If there’s anything Donald Trump can’t tolerate, it’s a showboat.

So one thing that’s not in dispute is that Trump fired Comey. Nor is it disputed whether Trump had that authority. The FBI director, unlike other federal officials, is appointed for a 10-year term. That was set up that way to grant the head of such a key law enforcement agency extra independence — independence beyond loyalty to the president. Still, although the 10-year-term law was intended to discourage presidents from treating FBI directors as personal vassals, Trump had the authority to fire Comey for any reason before the end of his ten-year tenure. The 10-year term is one of those “norm” things, that can’t be enforced but is supposed to encourage proper behavior.

Comey, by the way, despite serving under two other presidents, seldom met with either of them and didn’t feel the need to create real-time notes when he did. After his early experiences with Trump, he adopted the habit of immediately memorializing his encounters with the POTUS in writing because he believed it reasonably likely that Trump would later lie about the meetings.

As you have probably learned previously, Comey said that Trump asked him to drop the investigation into fired National Security Advisor Flynn, but didn’t explicitly order him to do so. “I hope you can let this go,” Trump said, according to Comey’s notes.

One of the committee members, Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) suggested that this is not the same as ordering Comey to do something improper. “He did not order or direct you” to drop the Flynn case, Risch said. Can it be a crime to express a “hope” that someone will do something, without directing that it be done?

“I took it as a direction,” Comey replied. He also said that, although he was still in the middle of his 10-year term, and loved his job, and wanted to keep it, and had told Trump previously that he hoped to stay on, he definitely had the impression that a threat was in the air to fire him if he didn’t “let this go.” He also understood that his commitment to impartially lead the agency would be jeopardized if he allowed Trump to tell him whom to investigate based on whether the boss thought the person was a good guy.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal,) asked Comey directly why he believed he was fired. Comey replied that he concluded it was because he was refusing to take the clue that Trump wanted him to end the investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and the possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign, including Flynn.

Later, in an exchange with Sen. Jack Reed (D- R.I.) expanded on that at some length, thus:

 “There’s no doubt — it’s a fair judgment, it’s my judgment — that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me. The nature of the FBI, and the nature of its work, requires that it not be the subject of political consideration…”

When Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) asked Comey flatly whether he believed Trump had colluded with Russia to influence the election. Comey replied: “That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting.” The committee was scheduled to meet with Comey privately later in the day, and Cotton said he would ask the question again then.

In general, the Senate Intelligence Committee's members rose to the occasion yesterday. Showboating was at a minimum. Many Republican members asked tough, fair questions and (with few exceptions) didn’t seem to be circling the wagons around the president. It would be great if they can keep that up.

Trump observed Twitter silence throughout the hearing. It would be great if he could keep that up too. He did dispatch his personal lawyer to read a statement that added little and seemed mostly to deny things that had not been asserted.

Finally, just to guard against my own bias, I decided I would provide you with Sean Hannity’s take on the day’s events. I just took down the opening rant. Said Hannity:

This is a Fox News alert.

The former FBI director James Comey’s testimony is a huge victory for Donald Trump today and a massive defeat for the Democrats and, of course, the propaganda media.

There are also some legal experts who say that James Comey may have broken the law.

The truth, and the biggest takeaways … from today’s hearing, this is information you will not get anywhere else in the media; Here’s what we learned today from James Comey’s testimony:

The president of the United States never obstructed justice. In fact, the president actually encouraged FBI Director Comey to go forward with any and all investigations on any campaign associates and involvement with Russia.

James Comey confirmed several times that the president and the White House did not -- let me say it again -- did not ask him to stop the Russia investigation.

Comey also said several times that President Trump was not ever under investigation, which, by the way, why did he only say this today? Why couldn’t the FBI director have come out sooner?

We also learned today that James Comey was selectively leaking information to try and damage the president. What so called champion of law and justice would ever do that to the president of the United States?

Now, of course, the Destroy-Trump Media and the Democrats, they were all proven to be completely wrong about their ‘Russia collusion’ theories and they’ve been lying to you, the American People, for almost 10 months. The biggest news today was the indictment of the Obama administration and former Attorney General Loretta lynch.

Comey admitted that Lynch was able to pressure him into toning down his own language when speaking about Hillary Clinton’s email investigation. Wow.

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Comments (41)

As a party to over 3000

As a party to over 3000 lawsuits in his business life, Trump is no legal neophyte.

And as to knowledge of private talks with a justice official can result in charges of obstruction of justice, his tweets on the Clinton/Lynch meeting put lie to the claim he didn't know how the private Comey meetings would look.

He was walking as close to the line of making an explicit demand as he felt he could. It's classic deniable phrasing of such a demand/request--especially given the repeated emphasis of the superior/subordinate relationship within the same and other meetings.

And then there are the subsequent tweets, interviews, and meetings with Russian intelligence assets that explain the firing was all about Russia.

By that date, Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador, had been identified as a senior Russian espionage figure on every media outlet.

The question is, what was Trump doing boasting to Kislyak that he had gotten rid of Comey so that he wouldn't interfere in Russian/Trump matters ?

The "conservatives" ask--why all this stuff about Russia ?

When there are multiple repeated efforts by multiple members of the Trump troupe to set up private meetings and channels with Russian officials, and no corresponding effort with other countries, and there is clear and undeniable efforts by the Russians to interfere with the elections here and abroad, and there are actions to try to close down investigations--that is why "all of this Russian stuff."

It's only beginning.

Spin and Spin again...

I guess it is time for the unbiased press to move from the Russian Collusion story and try and use the obstruction story.

Maybe, eventually, they will find something that will "stick" in their never ending search to conduct a bloodless coup of Trump.

Comey did offer a smorgasbord of information to make both sides spin and pontificate. The CNN and MSNBC host were almost as "breathless" as Hannity was in broadcasting their latest spin.

Considering Comey's leniency during the Clinton fiasco and his contact with Loretta Lynch - maybe that investigation should be reopened?

Considering the nature of the leaks, especially that lack of leaks that are pro-Trump, maybe there has been "collusion" between the unbiased press and the DNC as the campaign against Trump continues.

The simplest expanation, of course

is that there are no pro-Trump facts to leak.

Right On

Mr. Brandon:

By George, I think you've got it!

Comey's testimony was devastating

If, as you say, Mr. Black, is that either Trump or Comey, or both are lying, one of them -- Mr. Comey -- stacks his legal and political cards extraordinarily well, and one of them -- Mr. Trump -- has nearly turned shooting himself in the foot repeatedly into a regular habit.

No matter who's lying -- and is there really any question as to which of them is lying? -- yesterday was probably the worst day Trump has had yet in his brief presidency -- and he's already had quite a few. Comey has laid down a strong narrative pointing to obstruction of justice, and by his not answering "no" to questions about Trump's potential involvement, deferring his answers to the closed session, has implied much, much more. Not even the GOP's best prevaricators could put a good spin on this. Trump's in real jeopardy. The only real question is: Will the country care?

When does a consummate liar have a problem?

Even if Trump tells the truth, given the past 10 years of him being in the public political eye, who is willing to believe him? Surely not me. Trump is forever the victim, in his own mind, but not in my mind. He has perpetuated the GOP conspiracy theories for ten years or more. Trump doesn’t live in the real world that most of the rest of us live in. He has lived his entire life without rules, boundaries, or consequences. As Trump tries to exonerate himself from the Comey situation he will have trouble getting anyone beyond the 36% that support him to believe he is telling the truth. The problem WE have is if there is ever a serious emergency in the US Trump will have trouble getting the 64% that don’t support him to believe him. Lying has serious consequences. Trump has wasted his credibility and now has none.

Messy democracy at work?

Let us hope so. On the surface, the Comey hearing was refreshing, almost magical, a welcome change from the depressing drumbeat of destructive partisanship. A respite from gridlock and legislative sausage? We shall see.

Mr. Hannity

…is nearly as disconnected from the reality-based world as is Mr. Trump. I didn't watch the hearings, but even from what little I've seen in clips on reputable news sources, including FOX News, it's quite apparent that most of what Hannity is asserting is…um… wildly fantastical, and a figment of his overheated imagination.

Even Mr. Gotzman's usual defense of the alternate view of the universe perpetrated by the right wing lacks its usual energy, which at least suggests that Trump has built a legal case on sand, even among diehard supporters.

Mr. Comey was very careful, apparently, to speak cautiously, and not make assertions he didn't think were supportable. We'll have to await further developments to really make a judgment, or at least I'll have to do that, but since Mr. Trump is demonstrably a serial, compulsive liar, I'm inclined to put more faith in Comey than I am in Trump, depending on some contrary bombshell that's yet to have been made public.

Where do I even try to begin?

Well, I have breaking news for Mr. Sean Hannity: I do NOT see this as a triumph for our current POTUS, nor do I see what happened yesterday at the Senate Intelligence Hearing an agonizing defeat for democrats. The agonizing defeat for democrats was last year on Tues. November 8th, when our current POTUS was elected. And not much has happened since that notorious day to change my mind, despite the fact that my fellow church members all voted for Trump, as did practically everyone I know, with a few exceptions.

I think that the former FBI Director, James Comey, showed great grace and dignity under pressure, and there is no doubt in MY mind that he is being truthful. And I have a prayer myself: that the truth will come out and that justice will prevail - and if I am wrong, I will readily admit it. And the children of our POTUS can tweet all they want to - anyone who can remember history knows how their own mother, Ivana Trump, was deceived when Donald Trump, the businessman then, had a torrid affair with the actress, Marla Maples, who became the 2nd Mrs. Donald Trump. I suppose no lies or deceit was practiced there, right? And then, of course, there's the infamous 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape involving Donald J. Trump, Sr. with the infamous grabbing women by the "pX$$y" remarks, which were dismissed as "locker room talk" by the then Republican candidate running for the office of President. And the list goes on and on - insults, verbal thrusts, threats (empty or otherwise) 'Comey better hope there aren't any tapes', etc, etc., etc. Seriously - where does it end? Does Mr. Hannity honestly want us to believe that much of the world is wrong, and President Trump and his loyal followers, are the only ones who are right? And all of the hidden agendas that seem to be going on since Trump became President, and the nepotism! Come on!

And as a Christian myself, and a believer of the holy Bible, I could see myself clear to be a little more open minded about our POTUS if he ever apologized or withdrew some of his remarks that seem rude, senseless and downright cruel - but, I, for one have NEVER heard him utter so much as what could even appear to be an apology to ANYONE EVER!!!! And yes, people can make mistakes, even Christians (has Trump ever declared himself to be one? I've never heard him state so, even though I know the evangelical defend him in large numbers). I know that our vice president, Mike Pence, proudly states he is a Christian, and I believe him, but I'm referring to our President, Donald J. Trump, here. Has he ever stated he is a Christian? I don't believe he has.

And even Christians have made mistakes. The apostle Paul, was once called Saul of Tarsus, and he persecuted Christians, but - he became saved, and he repented and changed his ways, and much of
the New Testament was written by him. But I never once saw where Paul continued to lie and say hateful things about his fellow believers, and he was constantly belittling himself, and promoting the teachings of Christ. Not to turn this into a Bible lesson, but Trump won largely because of the many Christians who voted for him. And I just can't help but wonder - what will he have to do before they lose their faith in our current POTUS?

Congress Does its Job!

It was good to hear that the Senate was going to hold hearings on this investigation, and public hearings, at that. I really didn't expect much from them--I thought of Dr. Johnson's comment about the dog walking on his hind legs ("It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."). Defying the low expectations, the questioning was, overall, good. The hard questions and skepticism were entirely appropriate, and, despite a few irrelevancies, everyone stuck to the point.

Even if this investigation turns up nothing new by way of a scandal, it does show that Congress is going to exercise its oversight duties regardless of which party has to claim President Trump as one of its own. It was a good day for separation of powers fans.

A few other observations:

The President needs to learn that "vindication" is not the same as "testimony of the first witness did not result in an immediate conviction." It's still early days.

On a related issue, I think it is best now to focus on the Congressional inquiry, rather than any criminal prosecution. It could mean that some guilty people get to skate (See, North, Lt. Col. Oliver), but it probably is more important that the entire truth come out.

The less said about Senator McCain's performance, the better.

Speaker Ryan's comments about Trump's obstruction of justice were priceless. If you've ever wondered what it looks like to realize you have made a complete fool of yourself in public, and you can't run and hide, this is it.

Hannity? Good Lord.

Some observations

Again, I appreciate Mr. Black’s impartiality, at least in a way of providing an opposite point of view, the one that most of the readers here would otherwise never see…

Poor Comey – first he made Democrats mad, than he made Republicans mad, then he made Democrats mad again, then he probably figured out that he had to think of himself… but when you made so many powerful people mad, it is difficult…

Anyway, what did we learn? That Trump wants to have everything his way, wants loyalty from his subordinates, wanted a bad publicity to go away, and gives hints on what he wants if he can’t order that? Pretty much every CEO is this way… In fact, I am pretty sure that every politician is this way, too, but they usually try to hide this stuff from the public… So Trump most likely is not the best boss, but neither was Steve Jobs, for example…

Comey said that he “felt” that Trump wanted him to close the investigation… Well, seriously, I can’t imagine that Comey hadn’t realized that before he met Trump the first time… And that he thinks that he was fired because of the investigation? He may feel this way but so what? Besides, if I were Trump and were afraid of the investigation, I would keep Comey in his position because we all know that we need to keep friends close but enemies even closer.

We also learned that there was nothing regarding actual Trump’s collusion with Putin… Speaking of Russia, for Putin seeing American president weakened by constant attacks is the next thing to having Trump on his payroll … and I am sure he would put more oil in fire if he could, and Kislyak is a perfect one to just do that...

And finally, we learned that Lynch did order Comey to be easy on Clinton… But that is of course just nothing burger…

I also want to point out that, unlike Clinton’s hearing, Republicans were objective and wanted to know the truth… and that may be a surprise to many…

By the way, I have not listened to the hearing so my observations are based on the media but can someone point out Trump’s specific lies that Comey uncovered?

Well, Trump himself said in

Well, Trump himself said in the Lester Holt interview he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. It's not mere speculation at this point.

The whole point is that when you're the President of the United States, you can't interfere in an investigation -- particularly one that is of people who work for you. President and CEO are not equivalent positions. And Trump knew exactly what he was doing when he cleared the room to express his "hopes" to Comey regarding Mike Flynn.

What is interfering

“Trump himself said in the Lester Holt interview he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. It's not mere speculation at this point.” Then why did Comey refer to his judgment in his answers? (““There’s no doubt — it’s a fair judgment, it’s my judgment — that I was fired because of the Russia investigation.”). Plus, maybe Trump meant that it was too slow...

“The whole point is that when you're the President of the United States, you can't interfere in an investigation.” Actually, I would guess that no one can interfere in investigations but how can expressing hope that the investigation will be over soon be called interfering? What if Trump ordered Comey to finish his investigation ASAP? Would that be interfering?

Official account...

.....President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”....

....The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion....

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/us/politics/trump-russia-comey.html?_r=0

For the record, Trump told

For the record, Trump told Comey that "I hope you can let this go" regarding the Flynn investigation. Such statements have been used as evidence in obstruction of justice cases in the past.

The original reason

No doubt the president "didn't mean it," "was just kidding" or "changed his mind" (and not lying), but the original, official, written on White House letterhead reason for Comey's firing was his mishandling of the Clinton issue.

Shortly after the international release of that letter he added that Comey had to go because he was a showboat and a grandstander (who was getting more famous than he was) which struck me as Hindenburg saying Matchbook had to be fire-hosed because of the massive explosions Matchbook was causing.

No big thing. Just thought I'd mention and add it to the record too.

Just a couple of points,

since most have been addressed elsewhere.
First--
the head of the FBI (or any Federal official) is supposed to be loyal to the Constitution, not to the President. The President himself has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution.
Second--
Trump has never been accused of personally colluding with the Russians, although he has admitted in public (and denied having admitted it) to have done business with them in the past. The accusation is that his campaign has been involved with the Russians.
Third--
A comparison of Steve Jobs with Don Trump--
Jobs actually created a product and a business (although his associate Steve Wozniak is generally given credit for actually having created the Apple Computer and its operating system).
Trump, on the other hand, inherited an already successful business and at best maintained it. He neither created a business nor expanded one beyond what normal market grown would have accomplished.

What hearing were you people watching?

Comey admitted that Trump was never under investigation. He admitted the administration didn't impede his investigation. Even Chris Matthews admitted the whole collusion issue was dead after the testimony.
But Comey also "felt" Trump was trying to influence his investigation of Flynn. Just like he felt Clinton didn't intentionally break the law when she broke the law.
We can talk about decorum and tradition and propriety all day but the fact is Trump is Comey's boss. The President could literally tell the head of the FBI to stop an investigation and it wouldn't be illegal. It might feel illegal to people who don't know the law or people who hate Trump but it isn't. The President is the head of the executive branch which is in charge of the FBI. Let's just stop lying about the legality of this.

The head of the executive branch

is not a dictator.
The issue is not whether Trump had the legal right to fire Comey (he did), but whether this act constituted an obstruction of justice, which is an illegal act, as shown in the impeachment hearings of Nixon and Clinton.

Perhaps you have a perfectly

Perhaps you have a perfectly innocent explanation for the half-dozen or so Trump associates who have made repeated contacts with the Russians and their intelligence service and tried to cover them up. All at the same time when every intelligence service of the US said that the Russian deliberately made serious attempts to influence the election in the favor of Trump.

Investigation begins at the fringes, moving inward toward the center. Trump is at the center of a whole lot of strange activities.

By the way, if a President stops an on-going investigation, IT IS "obstruction of justice" by definition.

That's the reason for the "cute" phasing....I hope....

You don't know the law related to the President

He absolutely can stop an investigation. I know this link is from Fox News but Alan isn't a fan of Trump. He is however a fan of the Constitution: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/06/08/dershowitz-comey-confirms-that...
So you can be unhappy that what Trump did is legal but that doesn't change the law.

And Fox's pet "legal experts"

And Fox's pet "legal experts" are not the final word on anything--it's opinion--not decided legal fact. I've lost count on how many issues Dershowitz has been trotted out like a pony for a turn or two around the ring to impress the peanut gallery. Let's just say that he has legal opinions that seem to match very well with Fox's editorial line--that's why he's their "go-to guy".

Stopping an investigation

is not in and of itself illegal.
Obstructing justice in the process is, as Nixon and Clinton found out.
As usual with Trumpets, Dershowitz is not addressing the issue in question.

Dershowitz's opinion

He's a gifted lawyer but it's still only his opinion. If a sitting President can be sued while in office, he can also be indicted and tried for a crime, including obstruction of justice. It's only my opinion too, but what doe it mean if a President is "not above the law" but can violate the law he's sworn to uphold with impunity? Removal from office of course is separate. Nothing says that a President can't fill out his/her term from a prison cell.

Feelings versus fact

You can't interpret the Constitution based on how much you hate the current President. He's essentially the head of the FBI. Granted, the easier route would've been to give Flynn a pardon. But either way it's still fine. Now it doesn't mean Congress couldn't impeach him....But try not to let your zealotry get in the way of reality.

Zealotry?

I'm just saying that the Constitution (please read it) says nothing to prevent the prosecution of a sitting President for commission of a crime. Now I can't deny that an "interpretation" of the Constitution by the judiciary might not preclude that but so far the judicial interpretation of the Constitution has not prevented the "prosecution" of a sitting President for breaches of "civil law." It might seem to be mincing words, but I don't see any difficulty of any court making leap from "civil" to "criminal" under the right circumstances to conclude that a sitting President is not immune from prosecution for a crime. The judicial branch in theory is still independent and again "under the right circumstances" might conclude to let the chips fall where they may.

Either way it's still fine

Give Flynn a pardon from what?

And if that's the easiest route (which makes me wonder, "The easiest route to where?") the easiest thing for the president to do would be to give pardons-in-advance to all concerned, including himself.

That way we could all relax and stop wondering if anyone in or around the current administration played any role in helping Russia hack our election (assuming that aspect of things isn't just a fake news witch hunt being perpetrated by sour grapes Democrats and their buddies in the deep state department).

And then we could all relax and get back to the really important business of gutting health care, gutting wealthy individual's and business's tax rates and, most importantly, finishing the economy-cratering job George Bush Junior wasn't quite able to get done on his watch (because he was just a little too weak).

It's fairly obvious

Flynn lied to the administration about his lobbying. Just do what George H.W. did with Weinberger and give him a pardon. Presidents have pardoned people who did way worse things than Flynn. Granted it wouldn't stop all the "collusion" nonsense by the insane leftists who still can't believe their terrible candidate lost to another terrible candidate. But then again nothing will.

Trump has already

done essentially that with his unprecedented number of ettics waivers.

It wasn't just about his

It wasn't just about his lobbying for Turkey (and that lobbying had significant Russian ties)--it was about Flynn's contacts with the Russians--Yates testimony referred to criminal actions with respect to his contacts.

And the timeline of the Iran Contra affair began in 1984/85, it was uncovered in 1986, Weinberger was indicted in 1992 and then pardoned by GHW Bush. Years of investigations, formal indictment, then pardon. Few mysteries left in he issue at the time of pardon.

But hey, have Trump issue blanket pardons for everyone the moment their activities are discovered--no better way to paper over a problem--now that should reassure everyone democracy is in fine hands,

Mr. Johnson

Your point, I take it, is that nothing prevents the United States from deciding in favor of authoritarianism over democracy, if enough people are caused to vote for those who will take it in that direction. I agree: we are, unfortunately, a nation of men (and women), not laws. In an effort to “reach across the aisle,” I ask you this question: do you think that we can survive as a nation when there is a fundamental divide as to the form of government, that is, where over a third of the population prefers an authoritarian form of government? Or do you think, as I do, that breaking into two nations is the only viable outcome?

By the way, we “insane leftists” didn’t have a candidate in the election. The election was between a center-right corporatist and a kleptocratic sociopath. We "insane leftists" simply felt that the former would keep us from the abyss a bit longer.

Well...

Let's say Bill Clinton fired Ken Starr for no apparent reason and then dismantled the Whitewater investigation. Do you think FOX news would find constitutional reasons why this was all OKIE DOKIE or find otherwise?

Comey was under oath, too!

Don't forget: James Comey could go to jail if it is shown that he lied at all yesterday. Comey knows that, as a long-tiome prosecutor. That oath he took, to tell the truth, is a huge difference between Donald Trump and Comey.

Everybody but enraged ideologues like Hannity comes down on the side of Comey, on truth-telling. Especially on those details ("the nature of the person" as a factor in why he immediately began writing meticulous notes about his meetings with Trump, whom he sized up as a serial liar as soon as they met).

Trump has never had to state anything under oath, that I know of. And that'll be the day, when he is grilled under oath that would put him in jail for proved lies. I would love to watch that!

(Trump swore on inaugural day that he would uphold the Constitution, and he's not even doing that!)

Anything that Trump says while President

could be held to come under the purview of his oath of office, even after he is no longer President. It is unlikely that a President could be jailed for anything (short of treason) which he said while President. The Constitutional counter to lying while President is impeachment and conviction by Congress, which would not entail a jail term.
The Constitution is primarily concerned with protecting the nation, which is why it discusses removing a nonfunctional President from office; but does not specify punishment beyond that.

Trump's lies in a 2007 deposition...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/trump-lies/

.......That deposition — 170 transcribed pages — offers extraordinary insights into Trump’s relationship with the truth. Trump’s falsehoods were unstrategic — needless, highly specific, easy to disprove. When caught, Trump sometimes blamed others for the error or explained that the untrue thing really was true, in his mind, because he saw the situation more positively than others did..........

Legal Point

Just what law is Comey alleged to have broken by "leaking" his own notes on a conversation he was a party to?

My question, too!

James Comey took the notes and wrote those memos on his meetings or contacts with Donald Trump, so they are his, in the literal sense, and also part of FBI documents in that he immediately shared the contents of each memo with the guys he repeatedly referred to as his "FBI leadership team" (he mentioned their titles several times, so these are identifiable men). Between the time of his sudden firing by Donald Trump and the appointment of a special counsel to look into the Presidents activities, those memos were Comey's. They no longer are in his possession (not even copies), but with the special counsel Mueller.

Comey explained clearly what he did with one of the memos, with whom, and why he did it: He had a law professor friend give a copy to the oress because he wanted to try to get the Washington system to see the need for appointment of an independent special prosecutor after Trump tweeted about the existence of tapes of his conversations. Comey wanted to spur the public revelation of any possible tapes that would corroborate his memos' accuracy. Now, of course, Donald Trump IS under investigation, because of Trump's own tweet about tapes!

Comey made sure there was nothing classified or classifiable in his memos; he knows how to do that, a skill Trump will never have when HE leaks stuff, as he did to the Russians. Comey had no attorney-client privilege relationship with Donald Trump, either, so he wasn't breaking any confidentiality rules when he revealed the contents of his meetings with Trump.

Comey was quite calm and confident about when, how, and why he had his friend at Columbia Law School share one memo with the new York Times. He got the special prosecutor, and that--as most sane news outlets agree--was Comey playing long-view chess to Trump's bumbling , short-sighted checkers game.

You can call that the "deep state" undermining Trump, as alt-right paranoids do. Or you can call it an instance of learned expertise by a professional "trumping" a blustery and ignorant neophyte who distrusts his own White House staff.

One note: I think that those 20 million of us (more were in bars or restaurants or watched it via computers) who watched the almost three hours of Comey's riveting testimony in real time on Thursday morning are more informed with the facts here than those who only viewed selected excerpts chosen by some news filter, like Fox or even PBS. You can't get closer to what Comey said than actually listening to him as senators questioned him. Nobody coloring it, nobody spinning it. Best political TV since the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s! Sorry you missed it, Ilya!

Help me please

Since you watched the entire testimony, will you please explain to me where Trump lied how wanting the investigation to end is an obstruction of justice?

Comey testified under oath

Comey testified under oath that Trump's claim that the FBI was in disarray and that nobody there had confidence in its leader were "lies, lain and simple." Comey was angry at Trump's self-serving undermining of the integrity of our intelligence services, amking the public doubt anything the FBI does.

He began writing down careful and detailed notes about his meetings with Trump immediately after the first meeting (the dinner that Comey thought was to involved others, but then it turned out to be a one-on-one; women recognize that trick by harassers). Why? Three factors: the circumstances (the disturbing and highly inappropriate one-on-one meeting); the subject matter; and "the nature of the person." That last refers to Comey's informed guess that Trump would lie about the meetings. In other words, this experienced investigator and prosecutor immediately sized up or current President as a serial liar.

Trump has never testified publicly under oath, so who knows what he'll say--he says lots of untruths when he's not under oath, so. . . .

Comey wrote and testified orally that Trump indicated to him that he wanted the FBI Director to let the Flynn investigation go. Comey took that as a directive, as any non-lawyer would: "that is what he wants me to do." Comey didn't deny that that was obstruction of justice. He just left the answer to the special counsel whose appointment he had adroitly maneuvered.

The "Russia Investigation"

Comey said he was fired because of "how it was being conducted." Does anyone know what the "Russia Investigation" is?

Hannity sez: "The biggest news today was the indictment of the Obama administration and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch." Oh, really?

What so many of the Trump

What so many of the Trump supporters want to ignore

First----COMEY: Yes, sir. There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active, measured campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. IT IS A HIGH CONFIDENCE JUDGEMENT OF THE ENTIRE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It's not a close call. That happened. That's about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious...

Second---the purpose of the interference was the election of Trump

Third--Trump's key people have had close ties with Russia and have had multiple meetings that were not disclosed during confirmation hearings that asked direct questions on the issue, and there have been several attempts by them to set up back-channel communications via Russian intelligence services to Russia.

Finding out whom among those who had witting, or unwitting participation in the Russian plan of election interference is critical.

Shutting down any part of this investigation is a threat to the soundness of democracy and the democratic institutions America has been founded on. Especially with a national election in 17 months.