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Horowitz: Comey - Credible and Convincing

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


James Comey

A telling fact from former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee is that not even one of the Republican Senators who questioned Comey challenged his description of his interactions with  President Trump. Rejecting White House talking points, they pretty much accepted what Comey had to say at face value, nearly to a person praising his service and his honesty.

This is because Comey has a well-earned reputation for integrity. While both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have criticized some of the former FBI Director’s decisions, they know that his word is good.  And in this case, his word is backed up by highly detailed contemporaneous memos.

These lawmakers also have watched President Trump reckless disregard for the truth in matters large and small.  A substantial majority of Americans view the President as dishonest and my guess is there is an even higher percentage of members of the US Senate who share this view.

For most Americans as well as for most lawmakers, whether to believe Comey or Trump is not a close contest.  Comey's explanation that he wrote the memos immediately after his meetings with President Trump, but did not follow the same practice after meetings with Presidents Obama or Bush, in large measure, because of the “nature of the person” makes intuitive sense to any objective observer who has watched Trump in action as President, in the campaign or in his business career.  As Comey said, “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.”

It is premature to say whether Trump’ s ham-handed effort to get Comey to abandon the criminal investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and then firing the FBI Director when he would not comply, amounts to obstruction of justice, but there is little doubt that Trumps words and actions will trigger an obstruction of justice probe by Special Council Mueller. As former US Attorney Preet Bharaa told George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” this past Sunday, ‘No one knows whether there is a provable case of obstruction of justice. But, I think there’s absolutely evidence to begin a case.”

At a minimum, President Trump’s actions were spectacularly inappropriate.  Both demanding personal loyalty from a law enforcement official and urging that same official to drop a criminal investigation---especially one that touches his own Administration-- is just plain wrong.

Perhaps equally disturbing, is that judging by his actions since Comey’s testimony, the President appears to have learned little or nothing from this highly damaging episode. His reckless, untruthful and undisciplined actions have now earned him a Special Prosecuter and a likely obstruction of justice investigation on top of the ongoing investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Yet, he continues to tease the public and lawmakers about nearly certainly non-existent tapes and issue reckless and misleading attacks on Comey.    

Mr. President it is time to adhere to the old cliché: the first thing to do when you are in a hole is stop digging.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.



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