Almost one month to the day after President Donald Trump fired him, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about, well, a lot of things: Russian interference in the U.S. election, possible obstruction of justice, the culture of the FBI and so on. Y’know, just your average everyday hearing topics.
While reflecting on the density of all of the issues covered, it’s almost impossible not to be confused. But if there is one clear lesson we can all take away from yesterday’s hearing, it’s this: James Comey does not like Donald Trump.
But what else should we know?
SERIOUSLY, JAMES COMEY DOES NOT LIKE DONALD TRUMP
This point cannot be stressed enough. The day before Comey’s Senate hearing, he released a multi-page written statement that detailed several encounters he has had with the president. These encounters are two things: potential evidence of criminal activity and, well, uncomfortable.
For example, there’s Comey’s recollection of a January 27 dinner he had with Trump.
“A few moments later, the President said, ’I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence.”
Unfortunately, this anecdote does not end with Comey shouting to the waiter, “Check, please!”
In fact, during his oral testimony, Comey explained his thought process behind keeping such detailed notes on his meetings with Trump. The reason? He was concerned Trump would lie about them in the future. That’s not exactly the actions of someone who respects and enjoys their boss’s company.
IT’S STILL UNCLEAR IF TRUMP WILL BE TRIED FOR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
It’s important to state that the repercussions of this hearing aren’t yet known. Comey came before the Senate Intelligence Committee with a story to tell, and it certainly is a disturbing story.
Comey recounts in his written testimony, and discussed in front of the committee, that Trump cleared the Oval Office of administration officials before telling him, one on one, “I hope you can see your way clear [. . .] to letting [fired National Security Adviser Michael] Flynn go.”
This certainly sounds like a person asserting their influence over an investigation they didn’t want unfolding. But, when asked by the Senate if Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice, Comey demurred, saying that determination is the job of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Will that line of thinking work for the Senate Republicans?
Well, the GOP seems more than happy to not answer that question right at this moment — or at all, ever. Senator Jim Risch at one point told Comey that the president’s quote was merely expressing his “hope.” Risch said, “You may have taken it as a direction, but that’s not what he said.”
For many, insinuating that Trump’s request was anything other than a command may induce an involuntary eye roll. But Risch’s quote directly points to the fact that:
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STILL HAS A STAKE IN TRUMP
The Republican Party has responded to these allegations with the airtight legal defense tactic known as the “C’mon, Give the Guy a Chance!”
House Speaker Paul Ryan stated at a press conference, “The president is new at this. He is new to government, and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses.”
Chris Christie, meanwhile, took five from his presumably ongoing job as Trump’s McDonald’s deliveryman to say, “What you’re seeing is a president who is now very publicly learning about the way people react to what he considers to be normal New York City conversation.”
So long as the White House is still reliably nominating conservative judges, and the Senate Republicans are given carte blanche to draft their health care bill behind closed doors, it seems unlikely that the GOP will turn on Trump anytime soon.
But while this may not have been the day to stop the president, it was another day to make him hate his job. That’s worth something.