President Donald Trump is right about one thing. Former FBI director James Comey did tell the president three times that he was not personally under investigation. Most of us surmised that Comey would not have done this, but he did.
Apart from that fact, it appears to me that the president is in a heap of trouble. First of all, it seems likely that the president is under investigation now. While Comey refused to accuse the president of obstruction of justice he lays out a pretty strong case for it in his testimony.
According to Comey's testimony, Trump asked for loyalty and asked Comey to let the investigation of former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, go. He provides a timeline that is compelling. Comey also cites Trump's comments that the president fired Comey, because he was thinking about the Russian investigation.
Yet, reaction to the testimony is breaking down along partisan lines. Many Democrats and Democratic-leaning legal experts are finding reason to suggest the possibility of obstruction of justice. Meanwhile, Trump partisans are shouting mantras of no collusion, no obstruction and no illegal acts. The standard argument seems to be that Trump was so lacking in understanding of the way our government works that he could not possibly be guilty of any nefarious behavior.
It is interesting that almost no one is questioning the veracity of Comey's testimony. He presented as a very credible witness. His readiness to admit that he didn't always do or say what he should have in retrospect, strengthens the reliability of his witness. He failed to tell the president that what he was asking for was unacceptable. He was careful with his words, but was reluctant to challenge the president directly.
Explore this NCR special report with recent articles on the topic of immigration and family separation.
It is easy for us to say that we would have responded more forcefully. Comey's failure to do so, however, is indicative of his own humanity, and gives his testimony the ring of truth.
What I find striking is the notion that there is no evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice. Of course there is no public evidence at this time. There is an investigation going on. Much of the information is classified. Why do witnesses keep saying they can't answer certain questions in an open hearing? What is it they are saying in closed sessions? We don't know. Yet it seems unlikely they are saying that there is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the president. Both Democrats and Republicans would do well to wait and see what the evidence shows before making judgments on either side of the case.
President Trump and his lawyer do challenge the Comey testimony. They call Comey a liar. Trump promises to testify under oath. Ironically, they find Comey truthful when he says something they agree with. They find him to be a liar when they don't like what he says. Frankly and sadly, based on past performance, it is difficult to find credibility in what the president is saying.
What will happen now? With a Republican Congress that seems unwilling to go against this president, impeachment is not likely at this time. New but probably minor revelations will continue to drip out. The special counsel investigation will drag on. A wounded president will likely continue in office at least until after the 2018 elections.
Meanwhile, this administration and Congress are busy behind the scenes doing harm to the people of this country. The Senate is working on a health care bill with no input from Democrats and no hearings on the bill. Medicaid coverage is in jeopardy.
Other issues are also receiving attention. Deportations are moving full speed ahead, even for those who have abided by all laws since arriving in the country. Although the president's travel ban is still on hold, many have been discouraged from traveling here, including students sought by universities for their technical skills. President Trump's failure to acknowledge our allies, while courting countries that are not our friends, has turned our foreign policy upside down. Eliminating banking regulations established by the Dodd-Frank Act could set us up for another major recession. Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement puts the future of the planet in jeopardy.
All these issues represent questions that demand serious discussion about our values and our future. The Trump agenda is a dangerous one for our people in many ways. I think we may need to let the Russia investigation percolate on its own for now, and reenergize ourselves to fight each piece of this agenda which hurts the poor, the needy and the basic interests of our country.
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