By Glynn Wilson –
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald J. Trump is a liar who can’t be trusted and did not want the FBI director getting to the bottom of the investigation into Russian “meddling” in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, especially vis a vis his “satellite” associates, especially fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
That is the take away from the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday in the nation’s capital in the most watched show here since the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s.
Fired FBI director James Comey held his chin up and called Trump a liar in public and under oath, although he hedged when asked to draw a conclusion about whether Trump obstructed justice, a point now being seized upon by Republicans to defend the president and by the mainstream media to present a non-partisan show of reporting “both sides.” More on this may come out in the afternoon classified session, so look for leaks on that.
But let’s be clear. Comey made it crystal clear that the president was trying to influence the lead investigator in charge of the FBI probe. That is not just “inappropriate,” that is “illegal.” No matter what you hear or see on the news, this is solid grounds for impeachment as a “high crime or misdemeaner.” Whether the Republicans in control of the House are ready to go down that road is another matter.
Still, there is nothing being asked or answered here drawing any conclusions about whether Russian spying, hacking, leaking and putting out “fake news” on social media or elsewhere actually had an iota of influence on the actual outcome of the election. I have still not seen any evidence that it would have turned out any differently, which is a point being lost in all the political junky excitement about Comey’s testimony. Many bars in Washington and around the country showed the hearing live on HDTV, many with drink specials, especially White Russians for breakfast.
Members of the committee, including Republicans and Democrats, said things that make clear there is a lot of suspicion of Trump’s business connections to Russia and his defense of Russia and it’s former KGB president Vladimir Putin. Everyone is making it clear that there is still no concrete evidence of collusion between Trump and his associates in directing or cooperating with Russia to win the election and cost Hillary Clinton to lose.
Many writers on the left who were attacked early on by a story in the Washington Post as “pushing Russian propaganda” have taken a skeptical stance of this story from the start. While the New American Journal was not named in that report, we have basically sided intellectually with many of those writers, including Gleenn Greenwald of The Intercept.
But the game changed in a significant way on May 9, when Trump fired Comey.
Mother Jones’ David Corn was the first to call this the biggest story since Watergate, and former Harper’s blogger Scott Horton agreed with him and said Greenwald’s writing on this “is complete nonsense.” Horton was mentioned as a possible source of the leak early on of Comey’s memos of his conversations with the president to the New York Times, although NBC is now reporting that it was Daniel Richman.
Comey admitted under oath for the first time that he was at least one of the leakers to surreptitiously get information to the press in spite of legal and ethical constraints and an administration paranoia about leaks and leakers, which Trump even asked Comey to investigate in some of the now famous conversations with the president. We previously reported that Comey was most likely behind some of the leaks. He confirmed that under oath.
Comey said he did not leak the information to the New York Times personally, but through ”a good friend who is a professor at Columbia Law School.”
Comey was careful not to go all the way to say Trump fired him to short circuit the Russian investigation, but due to Trump’s own public statements in television news interviews and on Twitter, Comey’s answer is now clear enough.
“I take the president’s words. I know I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that,” Comey said.
So while the attempt to get Comey to agree to a loyalty pledge in exchange for keeping his job may be the subject of all kinds of confusing and even misleading commentary, any intelligent news watcher can see the writing on the wall.
In what has come to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre” on October 20, 1973, President Richard Nixon fired independent Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. On May 9, 2017, Trump fired Comey. If this is not Trump’s undoing as Nixon’s move was his, in addition to the Oval Office tapes, something is wrong with the system.
The good news is Trump may have tapes, as he has hinted in his own tweets.
During the hearing, Comey said he hoped there were tapes and he is all for releasing them.
“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” he said. “I hope they all come out.”
We can all agree on that, if Trump has not already destroyed them on the advice of advisers such as Steve Bannon, who was one of the principles in the alt-right Breitbart News, which should have been the focus of the first Washington Post story on “fake news,” not the writers on the left.
If there was fake news that did influence the outcome of the election, it came from Breitbart News and was picked up and spread by the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh on the radio and Fox News. All the other Facebook fake news sites, some influenced by Russia or even the Bernie Sanders campaign, were insignificant compared to the alt-right.
Comey made clear that much of the early reporting on this scandal by the mainstream media was wrong, including stories in the New York Times.
“There were many stories, especially about Russia, purportedly based on classified information, that were just dead wrong,” Comey said.
Why is this significant? No one bothered to ask or answer. The reporting helped form public opinions about the election. If the reporting was wrong, if the framing was wrong, then the public conclusions would be wrong. Say that Hillary Clinton was bound to win the election and the Republican Party was all but dead. You remember those stories.
Where is the reporting on that by the rest of the press and the media?
Most newspapers, including the Newhouse papers in Alabama, endorsed Hillary Clinton and assured everyone that she was going to win the election, even though the polls had the race within the margin of error with Trump trending in the final weeks, even in the key swing states that Trump went on to win.
If this investigation is not going to ask or answer that question, then at least we can say for sure that as a non-reader who has no grasp of history or how government works, Trump is ill-suited to be president of the United States. He should have never been elected in the first place.
If his obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation is the best way to get rid of him, fine. I’m all for it. But one thing is clear. He has to go. He does not have the class or character or demeanor to be president of the United States of America, and he is digging us into a hole it will take many years to dig out from under.
If the Republicans in the House don’t realize that yet, the people should prove it to them in the mid-term elections by voting them all out of office.
As Comey said, this is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue. If you believe in this experiment in democracy and want it to continue — or if you know that climate change due to global warming from the burning of fossil fuels is reality and believe we must address it — then Trump has to go. Period. End of story. Most everything else is simply sensational clickbait.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.