The Administration

OPINION: Comey testimony just the start of pain for Trump

Greg Nash

The uber-anticipated testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey did not disappoint. It seemed that Washington, D.C. came to a standstill to listen to Comey’s account of his troubling interactions with the president of the United States. But as much as we all held our breath for the three hours of testimony, what came of it?

I would distill it down to four key points:

First, it’s to be expected that Trump’s lawyers and supporters rushed to claim vindication of Trump in underscoring that Comey confirmed several times that Trump is not personally under investigation. 

{mosads}They should all be careful in claiming this victory. While Comey did say that he told Trump that Trump was not personally under investigation — in the context of the salacious Russian dossier — one of the biggest bombshells that came out of the testimony was that Comey also stated he was sure that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will look into whether Trump obstructed justice. 


Let me repeat that. Comey said, “I’m sure” Special Counsel Mueller will investigate and reach a conclusion on whether President Trump’s efforts to interfere in the criminal investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn amount to obstruction of justice. This is evidence that Trump is indeed under investigation. I don’t think the White House celebrated that revelation. 

Second, Comey said he decided to memorialize his interactions with Trump because, very simply, he was afraid Trump would outright lie about those conversations. Comey was right about his concerns. Trump did lie; several times in fact. 

While that in and of itself should not surprise any of us — we are talking about the most dishonest candidate-turned-president we have had in recent history — it should concern us all that Trump continues to lie to seemingly cover up possible collusion with the Russians or even high treason that may have occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle. 


If Trump can lie so easily about events leading up to this moment, what makes us think he is telling the truth when he says there was no collusion between him and the Russians?

What did Trump lie about? He lied when he denied asking Comey to drop the Flynn investigation in a recent press conference. When asked by a reporter if Trump had at any time urged Comey in any way, shape or form to close or back off the Flynn investigation, Trump said “no, no, no!” Comey’s testimony makes this a blatant lie.  

Trump also lied when he denied that he had asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to the president. When asked by a Fox News reporter if he had demanded loyalty from Comey, Trump said, “No, no, I didn’t…” Comey’s testimony makes this a blatant lie.

Trump lied again when he recounted that Comey had asked for the dinner meeting — instead of the other way around — and that Comey did it to ask to keep his job. Comey’s testimony makes this a blatant lie.

In fact, it was one of the several times Comey mused about how odd, disturbing and alarming the situation was because, in Comey’s mind, he had already told Trump — twice actually — he would be staying on. 

Comey even recalled that when Trump asked him during that dinner if he liked his job, Comey unsettlingly took that as Trump attempting to set up some kind of patronage relationship. In other words, Trump wanted to establish a quid-pro-quo with Comey vis-a-vis his job. 

Third, Comey described one of the conversations he had with Trump in the Oval Office — after Trump asked everyone else to leave — as the president directing him to lay off the Michael Flynn investigation. 

Comey’s testimony recalled Trump using the word hope: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Republicans will claim that Trump was not directing Comey to do anything. That could not be further from the truth.

When I tell anyone on my staff that I “hope” they do something — they do it. They know it is a direct edict from me. I would think the same if that came from any of my bosses throughout the years. It was definitely direction from Trump to whom he thought was his subordinate — the FBI director.

Fourth, Republicans will also try to use the excuse that Trump did not know any better, that he is not a creature of Washington and doesn’t understand Washington’s ways. To quote one of my favorite television personalities, Judge Judy, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

Trump knew — and knows — exactly what he is doing. He is behaving exactly like his opponents knew he would behave. He is a petulant, spoiled, narcissistic businessman who always had his way and always needs to have his way. He believes he can bend everyone to his will and doesn’t understand when and why he can’t. Being in the Oval Office would not change any of that. 

It is one of the biggest reasons that Trump is so unfit for the office he occupies. He will learn this the hard way. 

While Comey’s testimony is over, he has opened up additional avenues of inquiry. This is only the beginning of the pain the White House and Trump — and sadly the country — will endure while Trump is in office. Afterall, Special Counsel Mueller has only begun his inquiries.   

Trump is at an all-time low approval rating in the latest Quinnipiac poll — 34 percent. His agenda is completely stalled in Congress. The 2018 mid-term elections are around the corner, and if Republicans continue to make excuses for Trump and not take seriously the act of aggression Russia perpetrated on the United States with or without Trump’s help, it will be a very good year for Democrats. 

Then maybe we can rid the country of this clear and present danger that is squatting in the White House.  

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. 

Tags Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Dismissal of James Comey Donald Trump Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey Michael Flynn Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Trump University United States intelligence agencies

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