The week got off to a bad start Monday as the stock market took another 2+% tumble. But there was also good news. The CBS board of directors decided to terminate ex-chief Les Moonves for cause, meaning he will not get $120million in severance. And the fallout continued over Rudy Giuliani’s inane weekend comments, as well as Trump’s twitter rants attacking his own justice department.
But yesterday’s highlight came at the end of another closed-door interview by the House Intelligence Committee of former FBI Director James Comey. It wasn’t enough that the hearing was a ridiculous waste of time by the lame-duck Republicans, but Comey came out swinging at Trump and the feckless Republican party that has enabled a criminal in the White House.
Comey’s comments were spot-on and a strong kick in the gut to his intended targets. He gave a prepared statement with a general description of the topics of yesterday’s interview and then went right at Trump and the Republicans:
“…the president of the United States is lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI, and attacking the rule of law in this country–how does this make any sense at all? Republicans used to understand that the actions of a president matter, that words of a president matter, the rule of law matters, and the truth matters. Where are those Republicans today? At some point, someone has to stand up, and in the face of fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement, but stand up and speak the truth.”
Comey then took questions. On Trump calling Michael Cohen a “rat”:
“It undermines the rule of law. This is the president of the United States calling a witness who is cooperating with his own Justice Department a rat. Say that again to yourself at home and remind yourself where we’ve ended up. This is not about Republicans and Democrats, this is about what does it mean to be an American, what are the things we that care about, above our policy disputes which are important. There’s a set of values that represent the glue of this county and they are under attack by things just like that. We have to stop being numb to it whether you are Republican or Democrat, you need to stand on your feet, overcome your shame, and say something.”
Asked by a FOX reporter about his role in the FBI’s diminished reputation:
“The FBI’s reputation has taken a big hit because the President with his acolytes have lied about it constantly and in the face of those lies a whole lot of good people who watch your network believe that nonsense. That’s a tragedy. That will be undone eventually but that damage has nothing to do with me.”
Asked what can be done about what the President is saying:
“People who know better, including Republican members of this body, have to have the courage to stand up and speak the truth–not be cowed by mean tweets or fear of their base. There is a truth, and they’re not telling it. Their silence is shameful.”
Asked if any Republicans remaining in Congress are taking on president:
“Not yet. To my view, to their everlasting shame. I hope they’ll overcome that and realize someday they’ve got to explain to their grandchildren what they did today.”
Asked how he defends all the criticism of the FBI’s interview of Flynn:
“Oh, come on. Think of what’s happened to the Republican party. They’re up here attacking the FBI’s investigation of a guy who plead guilty to lying to the FBI. ‘He should have been warned you shouldn’t lie, he should have been told you can have a lawyer.’ Think of the state of affairs we’ve ended up in. That’ s nonsense. I’m very proud of the way the FBI conducted itself–agile, flexible, thoughtful , pursued the leads where you’d want us to.”
Comey has taken a lot of heat from the left over his last-minute disclosure just before the election of more Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer. But it’s a stretch to say Comey did it to throw the election to Trump. The disclosure certainly contributed to Trump’s win but it seems more likely that Comey didn’t believe Trump had a chance of winning, and wanted to prevent criticism from the right that Comey withheld the information to help Clinton get elected. Either way he was going to be criticized. In retrospect, it was a horrible decision, made worse by the fact that Trump was also under investigation but that information was still sensitive and couldn’t be divulged without compromising it.
But Comey has certainly been a vocal and credible voice of opposition to a corrupt and criminal presidency, and his attack on his own spineless and morally bankrupt Republican party can’t be easily dismissed by GOP politicians. Trump will surely respond, probably by the time you read this blog, so let’s see how unhinged and enraged Don The Con is today.
Also today, Mike Flynn’s sentencing is scheduled, so Trump might rail at that too.