OPINION: It's not Comey versus Trump — it's Putin versus America
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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence in the 2016 American elections is undeniable, former FBI Director James Comey pointed out at Thursday’s hearing.

Throughout Comey’s hearing, he emphasized that state-sponsored Russian cyberattacks will continue and that they are not isolated to either political party. Comey made it abundantly clear that Russia will continue to be a threat unless the United States assertively addresses the threats.

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The evidence of Russian influence can no longer be denied. It is time for officials to take tangible actions to prevent similar occurrences from happening in the future.

 

Comey said he was shocked when he learned that President Trump had fired him, saying, “The shifting explanations confused me and increasingly concerned me.”

Throughout the hearing, there was an overarching narrative that Comey had suspicions of President Trump’s motives in personal meetings for a while.

When asked by multiple senators why he documented his interactions with Trump, Comey explained it was “a combination of things. A gut feeling is an important overlay, but the circumstances, that I was alone, the subject matter and the nature of the person I was interacting with and my read of that person.”

Questions to Comey ranged from the status of investigations to how many times he met with previous presidents, the interactions he had with Trump, and a wide variety of other subjects. However, most of the questions focused on Comey’s meetings with the president.

The fired FBI director explained that the president frequently asked for assurances that he and his colleagues were not under investigation from the FBI. When Comey was asked about the infamous “salacious” dossier from January, Comey was quick to say, “it was important for me to assure him we were not personally investigating him.”

To many it appeared the hearing was Comey versus President Trump — but in reality, it was Putin versus the United States.

Multiple times throughout the hearing, Comey reassured the senators that President Trump was not under investigation.

This fact was of particular interested to Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico The Hill's 12:30 Report Colbert mocks Trump for sipping water during speech on Asia trip MORE (R-Fla.) who asked, “Do you ever wonder why, of all the things in the investigation, the only thing never leaked is the fact the president was never personally under investigation?”

Comey responded that he didn’t know why.

Throughout all of this, Comey reflected he could have been more explicit with the president about the inappropriateness of Trump asking about Michael Flynn’s investigation.

However, Comey maintained throughout the hearing that his responses were appropriate. When further pressed by Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFive things to know about the elephant trophies controversy The feds need to be held accountable for role in Russia scandal Lawyer: Kushner is 'the hero' in campaign emails regarding Russia MORE (D-Calif.) about why he wasn’t more direct with the president, Comey responded, “Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took in. The only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind — because I could remember every word he said — I was playing in my mind, what should my response be?”

This investigation is not a partisan matter. Putin is not a Republican or a Democrat — he is a threat to all Americans. He is determined to continue to undermine our democracy, and as Comey said, “It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So, they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible.”

We need to remain strong as a nation and respond to the Russian threat. It’s time to put partisan politics behind us, end these one-sided attacks, and focus on the real threat: Putin.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton. A longtime political consultant and pollster, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books. His latest book is “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”


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