by Stephen B. Presser, American Spectator June 9, 2017
Can Comey’s account be trusted?
Perhaps the most interesting moment of the hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday occurred when former FBI Director James Comey was being questioned on his interactions with President Donald Trump by Senator Angus King (I-Maine). The precise matter being addressed was whether the President had ordered Comey to stop investigating former Presidential advisor General Michael Flynn. Comey testified that Mr. Trump and he had both agreed that Flynn was “a good guy,” and Comey suggested that Trump expressed his hope that the investigation of Flynn could be ended. Comey testified that Mr. Trump had said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey is now taking the position that he understood Mr. Trump to be suggesting that Comey end his investigation of Flynn, and the clear implication (as it is now being trumpeted in various organs of the media) is that Trump was engaged in an attempt to obstruct justice, a criminal offense which quite possibly could be grounds for impeachment.
He and Senator King, examining Mr. Trump’s suggestion about Flynn likened it to the purported comment of the English monarch, Henry II, who was mired in controversy with the famous Archbishop Thomas a Beckett. Henry asked several of his courtiers, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” and, almost immediately thereafter, some of the King’s henchmen assassinated the churchman.
Most striking here is the implied assertion that President Trump (again, by implication acting illegally), was asserting kingly prerogatives (like Henry II), and expecting other governmental officials (here Comey) to carry them out. An equally plausible interpretation of Mr. Trump’s comments about Flynn, of course, now being brought forward by Mr. Trump’s defenders, is that this was not an order to Comey, but, simply the expression of a desire that someone (Flynn) whom the President believed to be a good man, and one who, in his opinion, had done nothing wrong, would not be further tormented.
Mr. Trump’s son, Donald Jr., has indicated that his father doesn’t work by indirection, and that if he was giving a direct order to Mr. Comey it would have been much clearer. Given Mr. Trump’s penchant for pithy tweets, and for his directness on the stump, it does seem quite plausible that when he wants to make something plain, he does. How then can one explain Mr. Comey’s interpretation, and, further, Mr. Comey’s repeated assertion during his Senate testimony that the President is a liar, and cannot be trusted?
One thought, floated by another Senator, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), is that Trump is speaking the language of a businessman, and Comey was not. This was in the context of Mr. Trump’s query to Mr. Comey whether he, the President, could depend on his loyalty. This is apparently an assertion sought by Mr. Trump from all of his cabinet members, and one that any sensible Chief Executive would want from those working under him or her. As Lankford explained, “I think Comey sees this differently than the president did. The president sees him [Comey] as another part of the team. Comey seems to see it as hey, we’re very independent, which the FBI has historically been, very independent.” READ it HERE