Today, June 8th 2017, James Comey the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee about his dealings with President-Elect and now President Trump. Each of the Committee member had their chance to question him about his time as Director starting with his written statement yesterday, see link below.
Each of the Senators were cordial to Comey’s relationships with them, but you did see a line between the Republicans and Democrats on how they presented their questions and what they focused on from his written statement. One of the issues was why he would write notes, both classified and unclassified memos, as he felt that then President-Elect was a liar or was lying to him.
Why is this important? It is important as it shows that President Trump gave Directory Comey pause or concern that trust is going to be an issue. If you cannot trust an employer to leave you to do your job independently to lead the investigations into his campaign personnel working with Russians to affect the election results, how can you trust him in his treatment of you?
In that initial conversation the Director told President-Elect he was not under investigation. In later conversations President Trump asked the Director to let it be known publicly that he, the President, was not under investigation for ties to the Russian investigation. Director Comey stated that he would not due to the possibility to have to do a correction, one of the issues the President and White House had with Director Comey near the end.
During his testimony the Director talked about being invited to dinner with the President on January 27th. His thoughts about the dinner was going to be a public one with more guests, but it turned out to be a private dinner. The topic of his job retention came up multiple times. The President said he hoped that the Director would stay on, but could understand if he wanted to quit.
Comey did confirm his intention to stay on for his ten year term of office, a limit set by Congress after J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure. How would we react if your boss’s boss asked you about your intention to stay? Would you be concerned?
The point Comey was trying to make was that the President wanted a patronage relationship, as in you scratch my back I will scratch yours. This came to ahead on February 14th , the day after Michael Flynn had resigned as the National Security Advisor. Per Comey the President said “I hope you can let this go.” That Flynn is a good guy.
With this background I watched this testimony expecting a very partisan battle. I was pleasantly surprise that it was not divided down the party lines, but more about what was going through Comey’s mind.
The Republicans followed a line of “Why didn’t you stand up to the President?” and “Why didn’t you report this to the Department of Justice?” The Democrats followed a line of “Why gave you the feeling that you needed to make these memos?”
The oddity of this hearing was Senator McCain. He apparently was confused that the July 5th, 2016 announcement about the Clinton email server investigation being closed was part of the Russian Election investigation that is ongoing. Sen. McCain kept trying to get the Director to say that he closed the case on Hillary Clinton was part of this investigation, even though it was not. You could see Comey not understanding where the Senator was going with his questions.
I invite you if you did not get to watch the testimony here in the link below.
Link to Comey’s written statement from Wednesday:
Link to Comey’s oral testimony from Thursday: