The moment I heard that Trump would not evoke executive privilege to stop James Comey’s Senate testimony, I knew that a character assassination blitz aimed at Comey would soon follow. I had read Comey’s seven- page statement made public the day before he testified; I saw only one defense open to Trump: deny, deny, deny.
Predictably, about an hour and a half after Comey bared his soul to the US Senate on June 8, 2017, Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, took the podium as Trump’s mouth piece and flat-out denied most of Comey’s testimony, except the bit about Trump not being under investigation.
During Comey’s interrogation, the Republicans had focused their inquiries, not on unearthing Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice, but on Comey’s statement that Trump had not been the subject of an FBI investigation at the time of Comey’s firing on May 9. When Comey testified before the House Intel Committee in March Republicans were obsessed with “leakers.” Thursday, Senate Republicans obsessed about Trump not being under investigation. I wonder, do covens of robed Republicans gather around some statue of Ronald Reagan in the dead of night and decide what manta will best obfuscate the real issues at these hearings?
I actually watched and listen to both Comey’s testimony and the Kasowitz rebuttal. Here are four discrepancies that I caught:
- Comey testified under oath that during his private dinner with Trump on January 27, 2017, Trump asked for his loyalty; Kasowitz, speaking for Trump at a press briefing, denied the president’s “loyalty” requests.
- Comey testified that Trump said he hoped that Comey would be able to “let go” of the investigation into fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s Russia connections; Kasowitz, speaking for Trump, fervently denied that the president asked Comey to back off of any investigation into Flynn or anyone else.
- Comey testified that he had a friend deliver the unclassified memo detailing Trump’s request to “let go” of the Flynn investigation to the New York Times on May 16 in response to a May 12 Trump Tweet threatening Comey with the possible existence of “tapes” of their conversations; Kasowitz claimed that the leak occurred the day before Trump tweeted about the “tapes,” presumably on May 11.
- Comey said that he gave one memo to his friend to deliver to the press; Kasowitz spoke about multiple memos leaked to the press, some of them classified.
As I was not in the room for any of the one-on-one meetings between Trump and Comey, I cannot say which account is true. However, I have been chronicling events since Comey’s firing on May 9 and can say without doubt that Trump’s Twitter Threat about “tapes” came on Friday, May 12 and Comey’s memo–singular and not classified in nature– was released to the press the following Tuesday, May 16. On the 17th, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller III as special counselor in the Russian probe.
Given the careless inaccuracies in Trump’s rebuttal via Kasowitz, I am inclined to accept Comey’s testimony over Trump’s denials. But the Breitbart and FoxNews spin masters are determined to make Comey look like a flagrant serial liar, while painting Trump as the standard bearer of truth. Cory Lewandowski, Trump’s ex-campaign manager, managed to appear simultaneously on NBC’s Today Show and ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday morning to beat the Trumpian drum.
A recent ABC/Washington Post poll gives Comey the edge over Trump for trustworthiness–21% trust Trump; 36% trust Comey. (1) Having seen Comey testify and having seen Trump play fast and loose with the truth since the mid-1980s, I am surprised that these percentages are so close. Only 1 in 5 people polled believe what POTUS Trump says.
Never willing to be outdone, Trump recently said that he would be willing to testify under oath before Congress. For anyone else I would think this a dangerous course, but Trump has for decades successfully created his own alternative truth and has lured many seemingly bright, sane people into believing his warped take on reality. I think he will create his own truth under oath as well and that 1 in 5 people will nod their heads and buy the bridge.
Meanwhile, back at the Senate, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are rushing to craft a back room health care deal that echos the House American Health Care Act. Once again while Donald the Magnificent distracts us, Congressional Republicans pass banking and healthcare legislation that will bring us back to that cliff Obama kept us from going over eight years ago.
“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.” –Frank Zappa
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/frankzappa161538.html
Photo by M. Daniels from NBC Broadcasts
- Clement, Scott, Guskin, Emily; Post-ABCPoll: Most Say Trump Is Interferring With Russia Investigation: Washington Post, June 7, 2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/06/07/post-abc-poll-most-say-trump-is-interfering-with-russia-investigations/?utm_term=.27675ba02266