OPINION: Facts and Opinion: James Comey Hearing

Isaac Martin, Political Columnist

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The day after our last publication, former FBI director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.  His testimony came on the heels of his abrupt firing in May and covered everything from the Russian probe to the resignation of Michael Flynn. Not since the days of the founding director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, has a G-man garnered so much limelight.

The Man

In 2013, President Obama nominated Comey to succeed Robert Mueller as the seventh director of the FBI. This was done despite the outcry of “prosecutorial excesses” by sources as different as the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.  However, Comey did not rise to national prominence until a year ago. On July 5, 2016, he outlined the progress of the investigation into the Secretary Hillary Clinton email scandal.

To the consternation of many on the right, Comey didn’t recommend prosecution of Clinton even though he admitted she had lied under oath to Congress. But 10 days before the 2016 election, Comey dropped a bombshell and reopened the investigation into Clinton. Needless to say, Comey has made enemies of both the red and blue sort.

108 days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, he fired Comey. Allegations of “obstruction of justice” and cries for impeachment flooded the national media. Which brings us to Comey’s testimony last month.

The Hearing

In Comey’s nearly three-hour testimony, four salient facts emerged. First, the former director confessed that after he was fired he released government documents to the New York Times. He did this in the hope of getting a special prosecutor to investigate Trump. Second, Comey provided clarification regarding some words exchanged between him and Trump in a private dinner. During this dinner, Comey recalls Trump asking him for loyalty. Comey responded to the president that he’d be loyally honest.

The third newsworthy item is a rumor confirmed by Comey’s testimony. In another private conversation between him and Trump, the president expressed his opinion on former national security advisor Michael Flynn. He told Comey, “I hope you can let this go,” referring to Flynn’s investigation. This is confirmation of the memorandum that was leaked to New York Times mentioned earlier. 

The final key development was completely unexpected. Before the hearing, Trump had gone on record alleging the FBI director told him on three separate occasions that Trump was not under personal investigation. This notion ran quite contrary to the prevailing opinion that the president was under scrutiny for co-operating with the Russians. Comey shocked many when he verified Trump’s claim as accurate.

Trump was not under investigation. In fact, he never was. When the president found out about this, he asked Comey to tell the public, but Comey refused.

The Aftermath

In the end, no one came out clean from Comey’s hearing.

Not Comey – he refused to tell the public that Trump was not under investigation even though he informed us that charges were not going to be recommended against Clinton. Not democrats – many had speculated Trump might be impeached after the hearing, which certainly will not be the case.

Last, our president’s name was  yet again sullied. One-on-one conversations are a generally frowned upon in our transparency-conscious world. If he wants to gain the respect of Americans, he needs to demonstrate a level of professionalism that has been oddly lacking from the businessman’s resume.