Journalists, commentators, pundits and politicos assured us that former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee would be on par with Watergate. Finally, they thought, we would get the juicy inside scoop about President Trump’s collusion with Russia to alter the election, or at the very least a whiff of obstruction of justice over his firing of Comey.
And then came reality.
“Where the there there?” MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked following Thursday’s testimony. It was a sentiment that was likely felt by many in the media who were hoping for a House of Cards script rather than mundane recollection of events.
That’s not to say that Comey’s testimony wasn’t vitally important. Indeed, it was a crucial first step towards dissipating the cloud of scandal that has hung over this administration and prevented them from making progress on their agenda.
First, Comey denied much of the “reporting” in the New York Times’ story that first stoked the accusations of scandal by alleging substantial “links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government.” Comey, responding to Mark Warner (D-Va.) testified under oath that “in the main, it was not true.”
“The challenge — and I’m not picking on reporters — about writing on classified information is the people talking about it often don’t really know what is going on and those of us who know what’s going on are not talking about it, and we don’t call the press to say, ‘Hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic,” Comey told the committee.
Second, Comey’s testimony made clear that not only did President Trump not want the Russian investigation shut down, he urged Comey to dig deeper. The real story came out in a back-and-forth with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Rubio: “In page six of your testimony you say — the first thing you say is, he asked what we could do to quote/unquote ‘lift the cloud,’ the general Russia investigation? And you responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could and that there would be great benefit if we didn’t find anything to having done the work well and he agreed. He re-emphasized the problems it was causing him but he agreed. So since the president agreed with your statement that it’ll be great if we could have an investigation all the facts came out, and we found nothing. So he agreed that would be ideal, but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda, is that an accurate assessment of it?”
Comey: “Yes, sir. He actually went further than that. He said. and if some of my satellites did something wrong, it’d be good to find that out.”
Rubio: “Well that’s the second part. And that is the satellites. He said, if one of my satellites, I imagine by that he meant some of the other people surrounding his campaign did something wrong, it would be great to know that as well.”
Comey: “Yes, sir, that’s what he said.”
That’s a deeply important exchange. It runs directly counter to the prevailing Democrat narrative that President Trump’s fired Director Comey in order to cover up some salacious dealings with the Russian government. Instead, it makes clear that President Trump agreed that a thorough investigation was necessary and encouraged the FBI to look into any of his associates that may have gone rogue.
Third, Comey’s testimony affirmed that President Trump wasn’t under investigation by the FBI, a fact that has been misrepresented and misreported by dozens of media outlets – to the detriment of the administration’s agenda – over the past several months.
I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump,” Comey testified. “I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.””
Comey didn’t get that fact out, despite President Trump’s continued urging, and based on the facts we know now, that appears to be one of the primary motives as to why he dismissed the FBI Director.
Is that a story that needs more investigation? Absolutely. But that’s a far cry from the Super Bowl of scandals that Democrats were promising. As it turns out, President Trump may be guilty of nothing more than being new to Washington and it’s particular processes. And frankly, that’s naiveté was exactly what attracted voters to him.