Today I watched the entire U.S. House Intelligence Committee hearing staring FBI Director James Comey and NSA (National Security Agency) Director Mike Rogers for the entire span of the meeting. It was nearly six hours long and could have ended shortly after Comey read his prepared statement because that was the news and all the rest was political posturing which proved that we need a special prosecutor with no turf to protect.
Comey dropped three bombs on the Trump administration today. First, he said 1) There was no wiretapping on Trump, 2) Then, he added that the FBI was conducting an investigation on the Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential election 3) and finally, he revealed that the investigation included the Trump campaign/White House involvement with the Russians. This marks a couple of firsts, one is that it is the first time the FBI has publicly announced an investigation while the investigation was taking place. The second first is the revelation by Comey that the Trump Administration and campaign were part of the investigation. He also warned that he was sure the Russians would come back to do the same thing in 2016 and 2020.
After Comey’s bombshell announcement, Mike Rogers the head of the National Security Agency responded to the charge that Obama may have ordered the wiretap by the British equivalent of the NSA. Rogers met the question head on with nearly righteous indignation when he said there is no way the NSA would ask the British or anyone else to do such a thing. He and Comey made it clear that the President of the United States cannot order an investigation or wiretapping of anyone. There is a process for doing that type of thing and it involves getting a court order from a special court.
You are watching your constitution in action. You are a witness to history as the separate branches ofr government operate to check and balance each other.
After the first 10 to 20 minutes of the hearing, everything else was political posturing. Good points were made but Comey may have set a record for saying, “I cannot comment on that.” He had warned early on that because the investigations were ongoing he might not able to say much and he was right. Democrat and Republican committee members did some pompous strutting around to try to make their case, but Comey was not the audience, they were speaking to those of us at home and to the Trump White House.
So, what we learned from the testimony is that all the key players on the Trump team are being investigated with regard to their interaction with various Russians and many Trump staffers have had some contact with them. During a break in the hearing, Sean Spicer held a news briefing in the White House. Again he made a fool of himself and caused further embarrassment to a nation already in a constant blush. First, he doubled down on the President’s claim that President Obama had the Trump tower wiretapped. Then, when asked about Paul Manafort he said one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard. “Paul Manafort played a minor role for a short time.” That’s right, that’s what Spicer said.
For those of you who don’t follow this stuff closely, Manafort was the campaign manager, he ran the Trump campaign. Not only that, the Republican convention was of his design as was the platform. He finally resigned over allegations that he had been on the payroll of a Ukraine politician with strong ties to Vladimir Putin. But– Paul Manafort was no minor player he was a major influence on the direction of the Trump political train. Obviously, the Trump people understand how the association with Manafort can harm them, so now they want to distance themselves from him. Sorry, pals, it won’t work.
One very scary thing came out of the hearing today, but not from either Comey or Rogers, it came from Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of the Benghazi committee fame. Gowdy subjected Comey, Rogers, and all the rest of us to a lecture on the irresponsibility of the news media. While telling the two Government investigative chiefs to go wherever the investigation takes them, he implied that reporters who published leaks from Government sources should also be investigated and even prosecuted for espionage. Comey tried to point out that something like that was unheard of and had not been done, but Gowdy was not impressed. He made every attempt to turn the discussion from the Russians and Trump’s involvement with them to one about journalism. It was almost as though he wanted us to believe that if not for the Press, none of this would be happening. He may be partially right. Without the press we wouldn’t know about any of this and the politicians would be getting away with murder. Sorry Mr. Gowdy but with all their warts and scars, with all their mistakes and inaccuracies it is the news media that keep us informed. They are the difference between a free American and one that is just like Russia. Were it not for the news media, there might not be an investigation. The Justice department headed by a Trump appointee runs the FBI. With no media involvement, it would be easy for Trump to order a lid be placed on the issue and we would never know it ever existed.
Today was a good day because it showed us that our investigative agency was on top of several issues, but is it in time? I worry that our President is preoccupied, unpredictable and in denial. Despite all the evidence that has been presented to discount his reckless lies, he clings to them as though they will miraculously go away. In the meantime, North Korea is posing a real threat of nuclear war and I do not have any faith that the President of the United States has the wherewithal to deal with a crisis of that proportion.
While we wait for the investigation to conclude the President has offended Australia, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain and Germany, but can’t find a single bad thing to say about our greatest adversary. For Putin and Russia, he has nothing but compliments. Something here doesn’t smell right.
One thing is certain, the political posturing we saw today proved that we desperately need a special prosecutor and a team of investigators with no ties to either party, no allegiances to any candidate and no history of partisan participation to take charge of the investigation in full view of the American public.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth.