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.