Both cloud and cancer apply here and now to the Donald Trump administration, not just because of alleged obstruction of justice, but, because of the greater Russian investigation.
There are many including me who believes that Donald Trump absolutely could have committed obstruction of justice. Of course, there are others, who also are acting in good faith that believe the opposite insist there is no criminal activity or behaviors that would constitute high-crimes and misdemeanors.
This column will not discuss all of the details why I believe obstruction needs to be investigated. I would need much more time and space to provide those details.
Instead, there I prefer to raise these observations:
- James Comey has made a number of errors but under no circumstance has he lied in his testimony. None of the Senators questioned his veracity and disliking or liking his prior mess ups have nothing to do with today’s testimony.
- For the most part, the Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee were very interested in seeking the truth. In a partisan controversy of this nature and importance, the cooperation by most of the committee members is almost profound. The Chairman Burr, in particular, should be applauded for setting the tone.
- There are legitimate concerns as to why Comey did not inform the justice department about his concerns regarding Trump’s requests to curtail the investigation or clear his name If there are legal mandates that he did not follow that required him to inform his superiors, he also should be under investigative scrutiny.
- For the most part, the entire issue related to Comey’s not informing his superiors is a red herring. Here’s why: Assuming Comey failed to do what was legally required of him, what is the evidentiary impact of that conduct? Does it impact his credibility that these events as he has testified did not exist? What we know is, he wrote a memo after those interactions with Trump and shared them with others prior to his being fired. He had discussions with his staff, in fact, a number of people, and as a team decided to keep the information for further evidence because they felt at the time, releasing it to the Justice Department could contaminate the larger investigation. If he was obligated to inform others, so would they be. So, what is the purpose of pursuing the line of argument that he failed to disclose his conversations with Justice Department? Does that mean the conversations as he has now described did not exist? There is a way to determine the accuracy of the written communications. The digital memos can be dated for creation and changes. More importantly, he told others and shared the information with his team. This was contemporaneous with the events. Let us assume it was absolutely improper and wrong for him to sit on this information. Would that mean his testimony today was not accurate or true? Would that mean the conversations with the President did not exist? If there are further doubts of his concerns, the government should question all of those involved.
- If the issue of his lack of communication with Justice Department is related to his lack of concern, therefore, no actual obstruction of justice, that has some merit. He threatened to quit under the Bush administration but not during this investigation. However, some weight should be given to his office’s concern that the investigation would be contaminated if his FBI agents were apprized. More than that, the ultimate act of the alleged crime would be the firing given the President’s interest in stopping the investigation, the FBI’s refusal to acquiesce, the termination, the changing explanations for the termination and last, Trump’s own later admissions that Russia was on his mind and that he was relieved by firing Comey. Whether Trump made a mistake in taking this action in that Comey later urged a special counsel, is no moment to the President’s actions.
There is indeed a cloud over Donald Trump’s administration head caused by the President himself. Instead of being concerned about Russian involvement, he has actively denied it and called it bogus. His own attitude must please the Russians, concern our allies and worse for him, creates even more question marks judging his motivations.
Only Donald Trump can clear the air. He can do exactly what James Comey has done. He can testify under oath to Congress or even to the special counsel to get his own side out. He has been called a liar. He can also release any recording, should it exist. At the minimum, he can educate the world whether there are any such recordings that could undermine Comey’s testimony. The longer he keeps America in the dark about these issues, the more anger, confusion, commotion and discord will result among Americans. Accordingly, his silence amplifies our weakness.
On a separate note, Congress and/or special counsel should open another investigation, but this time, against Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton. There was no reason for Lynch to tell FBI Comey to call an investigation, “a matter”. What’s a matter? There was a criminal investigation ongoing of Hillary Clinton. Her campaign wanted to sugar coat the criminal probe. Not only did Lynch do that, but she requested Comey to do the same. There was absolutely no logical explanation why Bill Clinton and Lynch should have engaged in a conversation at that point of the investigation. Had there not been a person with a camera, we never would have known of this fortuitous and foreign interlude. This matter absolutely requires further governmental inquiry.
Americans must demand that our government officials put truth and transparency to the ongoing Russian investigation and hopefully future inquiry into the Clinton-Lynch meeting. While the President has no obligation to testify about the facts as alleged by Comey, there is no way his credibility will not take a substantial wallop after the events of the past two days. He, and only he can put the doubts to rest.
His attorney’s spin and his press secretary’s claim he is not a liar only makes the entire controversy farcical. Trump can do the extraordinary and tell his story under oath. Not doing so hurts the country and his credibility. Worse, it hurts the very people always defending his actions when it is justifiably, or not, under constant assault.