That Thing

Appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers embarrassed themselves. Now that’s not new for those who choose to associate or stay associated with Tr-mp, but it was at times cringeworthy. And kind of sad to watch.

There was one good thing about their ridiculous refusal to answer the questions of aggressive Democrats (including Angus King, who was great) about the report in The Washington Post that Tr-mp tried to get the two intelligence chiefs to interfere in the Russia investigations. That one good thing was that through their refusal to answer, rather than deny the essence of the story, they did confirm that the Post got it right. Tr-mp did try to interfere. And how Coats and Rogers felt about it, as Senator King made clear, had nothing to do with it. Either Tr-mp tried to interfere or he didn’t, and now we know, through inference, that he did.

That leads me to a quick take on former FBI Director James Comey’s “Statement for the Record” that he submitted to the same Senate committee we saw in action today, prior to his testimony tomorrow. Since the statement has been released, there has been plenty of analysis of it. It’s generally a fairly damning document (and its early release by the committee will give members time to obtain more details from Comey), in terms of how much interference, sometimes with a wink and a nod, Tr-mp tried to inflict on Comey. But I just want to look at one thing that hasn’t got much, if any, attention in the statement.

When I first read the document, I focused on something I found odd. It comes at the end, when Comey is describing the last time he talked with Tr-mp. Here is the relevant part:

On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.

He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.

Now, first, it is obvious “the cloud” Tr-mp is speaking of is Tr-mp himself. He is the cloud that gets in the way of his ability to do his job. He simply doesn’t have the ability. But, second, my attention was directed at Comey’s lack of interest, or curiosity, in what Tr-mp meant by “that thing.” That lack of curiosity to find out what Tr-mp meant seems very odd to me, especially in the context of  Tr-mp’s “I have been very loyal to you, very loyal” preface. Comey says he “did not reply or ask him what he meant.” Why? Why wouldn’t the FBI Director, who clearly by the time of this call was worried about interference from Tr-mp, not want to know what “that thing” meant?

It appears to me Tr-mp was directly suggesting that he had some “understanding” with Comey or that he had been trying to obtain some understanding or that he wanted Comey to think he would tell others he in fact had such an understanding. In other words, Tr-mp may have been purposely suggesting that Comey had been compromised by all of their discussions or that he saw it that way and might tell others about it. So, why wouldn’t Comey, knowing he would document this very important conversation, want to get Tr-mp on the record about such a crucial matter? It could have been impeachment-worthy information. Wasn’t obstruction of justice ever on Comey’s mind?

I don’t know the answer to that question. But if I were on that committee tomorrow, I would ask him. It’s strange behavior to me. But I suppose, given what got us in this Tr-mpian nightmare, much of Comey’s behavior has been rather strange.

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5 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  June 7, 2017

    I don’t think Comey will give away too much. If he is as respected, honest, and excellent at giving testimony as advertised then I would expect him to do the right thing and imply trails to follow if criminal liability has occurred. Had I been fired for investigating a known liar that is Flynn, or not pledging loyalty, not removing clouds, or because he wanted my investigation shutdown, I’d want to give some signs to wish justice to follow and expose, if I couldn’t downright comment. Don’t expect fire, just more heavy smoke, and possibly a trail to follow.

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  2. I just hope the articles of impeachment drawn up by Angus King and Al Green don’t go anywhere. Surely we’re better off with a bumbling fool who has no ideology but is only a pragmatist looking out for his family’s wealth, than with a right-wing Christian ideologue who actually has the competence to get his agenda moving forward.

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    • King Beauregard

       /  June 8, 2017

      I worry about what happens when Trump’s narcissism gets him cornered with no way out: narcissists are at their most dangerous when they’re out of options. This is a narcissist with the world’s most powerful military at his disposal.

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    • I have thought about that a lot, Helen. I think you are right in a purely practical political sense. And I think leaders like Nancy Pelosi think that way, too. That’s why she always cools down the impeachment talk (incidentally, Angus King is in the Senate and isn’t able to impeach the peach, even though he has floated the “I” word).

      But I wonder if we’re being too clever by half. I do think Pence and the GOP Congress will do much more damage, domestically, if Tr-mp and his distractions are out of the way. But Tr-mp, as the Qatar and NATO incidents prove, can actually start another war with his stupidity. I worry about that a lot. And who knows what else will happen, with or without Tr-mp’s incompetence, that will need a steady hand abroad.

      And besides that, I don’t think it is wise to tolerate a constant violation of our Constitution by such a disordered human being, even if it means a creepy Christian ideologue, who has no discernible public morals, will inherit this always-illegitimate presidency.

      Duane

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