Former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a public setting on Thursday. According to many folks on the Left, Comey’s incoming testimony will be “Washington’s Superbowl.” While it’s true that his testimony is guaranteed to have a significant viewership from those on both sides of the aisle (thanks to the mainstream media pushing this supposed nuclear testimony), according to his opening statement, Comey won’t have anything particularly too damning for Trump; certainly nothing overtly impeachable either.
On Wednesday, the full text of James Comey’s opening statement was released to the public by the Senate Intelligence Committee. In it, you will find the dismantlement of many leftist narratives that Democrats have been spewing out baselessly ever since Trump won the election. However, despite the seemingly debunked narratives, Comey confirmed one thing that isn’t so good for President Trump:
1. Trump Demanded “Loyalty” Of Comey. Comey states that during a one-on-one conversation with President Trump seven days after he was inaugurated, Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty. Before that, however, Trump brought up Comey’s continuation of serving as FBI Director:
The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away. My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.
There is a bit of a problem here. The conversation, as described by Comey, situates Trump in a position of essentially selling Comey the FBI Director job in exchange for loyalty:
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. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because “problems” come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work. Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things 4 about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.
We cannot be certain that was Trump’s angle; and, regardless of the apparent unethical nature of the engagement, no legal boundaries were crossed. Therefore, Comey’s admission of Trump asking for loyalty puts Trump in a sort of trouble that involves public perception rather than the law. The fact is, however, that the exchange could not have been too harsh on Comey’s outlook on ethics as he did not resign. Presumably, if one were to encounter something terribly unethical, they’d resign. Comey just didn’t do that.
2. Trump Wanted Comey To Stop The Flynn Investigation. In February, Comey had another one-on-one interaction with President Trump. This particular one was described in the infamous Comey memo in which President Trump asked then-FBI Director Comey to drop the Mike Flynn phone call investigation. “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.” That’s what President Trump said, according to Comey. To which he allegedly replied with, “he is a good guy,” and how he wouldn’t “let this go.”
Now, this also isn’t particularly good for Trump. But, to be clear, this is not obstruction of justice relating to both the Mike Flynn investigation and the Trump-Russia collusion case, “I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.”
So, once again, no evidence to support the Left’s obstruction of justice claim has become apparent as of yet. The only thing that they have is Trump mentioned that Mike Flynn was a good guy and that he hopes Comey could “let this go.” Nothing legally damning.
3. No Collusion Has Been Proven. As previously mentioned, Comey admitted that Trump did not pressure him about the broader Russia investigation, nor did he genuinely pressure Comey about the Mike Flynn investigation. Comey even states that “The investigation moved ahead at full speed.” If there was an enormous pressure that Trump put upon Comey, this statement proves nothing of the sort; in fact, it shows the opposite of what the Left wants: definitive collusion and pressure. Unfortunately for them, neither of which shows up here.
That’s good for Trump.
Comey did go to Jeff Sessions about the communication Trump, and he had that day, but he did not mention President Trump’s supposed pressure regarding Mike Flynn. Instead, Comey asked for a barrier between him and Trump as he deemed these one-on-one conversations inappropriate. According to Comey, the reasons behind him not telling Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the specifics of Comey’s conversation with Trump was because he wanted to “figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed.”
4. Comey Refused To Publicly Say Trump Wasn’t Under Direct Investigation. Despite his efforts to not tell the American public that President Trump was not under direct criminal investigation, Comey told Trump privately he wasn’t:
In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.
5. Trump Said He Wants To Know If Associates Had Done Something Wrong. In a March phone call with Comey, President Trump reiterated that he was not involved with the Russians in any nefarious way. He went on to say:
…if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.
Trump also detailed the problems in which the Russia investigation was causing him, urging Comey once again that he was innocent and attempting to persuade Comey to come out in public and announce he was not under investigation. This, I like to think, was the underlying factor in why Comey was fired. Scratch Comey’s perceptible incompetency, his need for the limelight, and his broad Russia investigation. Comey would not clear Trump publicly; only privately. Eventually, this angered Trump so much until he perceived Comey as deserving of an ouster.
It is a fair conclusion for one to reach after drawing from Comey’s opening statement that there is still no evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice and the only issues Trump will face from this statement is that of public perception; a nothingburger for a man like him.