How far would you go to take down a corrupt president like Trump? Would you make yourself such a nuisance that he would panic and tip his hand? That might just be what former FBI Director James Comey did.
Now that it's been revealed that Comey kept detailed notes of his highly inappropriate conversations with Donald Trump and that those notes show Trump trying to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn, Republicans are hard at work trying to smear Comey by questioning his integrity:
Rep. Peter King, among others, have raised the question of how former FBI Director James Comey could have ethically kept quiet if, as reportedly alleged in one of his memos, President Donald Trump took him aside in February and asked him to end the investigation into Michael Flynn.
Didn't Comey have an obligation at the time to go public with his concerns that the president was obstructing justice, even an obligation to resign in protest?
He would have such an obligation unless, as Josh Barro argues, Comey needed Trump to fire him in order to make the accusation stick:
But if Comey had gone public in February, the defense from Republicans would have been that Trump just talks like that, and he wasn't trying to obstruct justice, and you shouldn't take him so literally.
And without Trump having taken a concrete step to obstruct justice, such as firing the FBI director, that defense would have worked.
It's important to keep in mind that just a few days before Trump fired him, Comey went to the Justice Department and asked for more money to ramp up the investigation. He might as well have put up a giant billboard saying, "Fire me or I will end your presidency." Trump, ever the lowlife, had no choice but to fire the rogue director before he exposed Trump's crimes. And now that Trump has openly admitted, on national TV, no less, that he fired Comey because he was still investigating the Russia case, the whole "Oh, don't take him literally" line will only work on people who watch Fox News. And possibly not even them.
Did Trump get played by Comey? If so, this was a high-risk gambit with no guarantee of succeeding with a seemingly disinterested Republican-controlled Congress.
There are two very real possibilities here and they're not mutually exclusive of each other. One is that Comey may, in fact, be the stand up guy he's presented as a public persona all these years. Confronted with a blatantly criminal president, Comey realized that he would never be allowed to finish the investigation but that he was in a position to strike a possibly fatal blow against Trump's corruption anyway.
The second is that Comey realized that his torpedoing of Hillary's campaign, deliberate or not, put the country at an unacceptable risk. Going along to get along not being in his nature (he pushed back against Bush's torture memos according to last night's Rachel Maddow report), Comey realized he would never be allowed to finish his investigation etc. etc.
Or it could be a combination of the two. Regardless, depending on how brazen Trump was in trying to put the FBI under his thumb, and whether or not Trump was stupid enough to record the conversations (and even stupider to not have them erased), Comey will have nailed Trump on obstruction of justice, the same offense that forced Nixon out of office.
The next questions are whether or not Comey's memos can be corroborated and if so, will Republicans continue to turn a blind eye? They've ignored all of Trump's corruption so far, what's a few more broken laws when a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the rich are at stake?
There are 537 days left to the 2018 elections.
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