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Thursday, June 08, 2017



by Tom Sullivan

The brew & view here in the Cesspool of Sin is opening at 10 a.m. EDT this morning for the James Comey Show. Local public radio sent out an email yesterday morning saying it would have live coverage on both its stations when the former FBI director testifies under oath about the Russia investigation before the United States Senate.

Shaw's Tavern in Washington, D.C. is hosting the “Comey Hearing Covfefe” with $5 "Russian Vodka flavors" and a $10 "FBI" sandwich. Union Pub reportedly will buy drinks (vodka shots, I heard) every time President Trump fires off a tweet during the hearing. Elsewhere in the country, CBS reports, bars are following suit, even in California (7 a.m. PDT).

Comey's prepared remarks were available online yesterday. For those following the controversy arising from Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and investigations into possible collusion with the Tump campaign, there was much already known. Comey describes a series of interactions with Trump that he found so uncomfortable he documented with contemporaneous notes. After one meeting, Comey transcribed the conversation in the car immediately afterwards. Trump wheedled Comey trying to extract a pledge of loyalty and to get him to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He’s a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Trump repeatedly asked that Comey do something to "lift the cloud" of the Russia investigation over his presidency and to "find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him," Comey wrote. Senators will be probing to uncover whether Trump's actions amount to obstruction of justice.

Former Watergate prosecutor Philip Allen Lacovara believes Comey has already laid out "evidence sufficient for a case of obstruction of justice."

Politico reports that the behavior Comey describes is classic Trump:

"I've known him for a long time and he's no different in his job than when I knew him," added George Arzt, who knew Trump while he was a reporter and a fundraiser and a spokesman for Mayor Ed Koch. "He never knew boundaries. He was tutored by Roy Cohn, the famous New York lawyer, who never knew boundaries."

Trump has long sought to strike secret deals or end investigations when he grew exasperated with casino regulators in Atlantic City or city and federal officials, said Timothy O'Brien, a longtime biographer, and Arzt.

He threatened opponents — like he did with Comey, saying there could be "tapes" of their private conversation — with threats of lawsuits and public bullying.

"He has repeatedly throughout his career tried to intervene with law enforcement, regulators and take matters into his own hands that he knew other people didn't do,” O'Brien said. "The difference between now and then is that he wasn't president then. He has never been subjected to this broad of a variety of legal and ethical norms."
And he may not be yet. Their tribal loyalties stronger than their oaths, Republicans in Congress exhibit little evidence they will make any moves towards either removing Trump from office or pressuring him to resign. All the hype regarding today's hearing may not change that, even should Comey's testimony actually live up to the hype.

As Trump's fake signing ceremonies, fixation with crowd size, and demand for public credit for phony charities demonstrate, Trump's behavior may stem more from his obsession with how the Russia investigation makes him look than any actual collusion with the Russians. But don't discount the possibility of money laundering.

Comey's 2007 testimony about a dramatic showdown in Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital room between Comey, then acting Attorney General, and White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr. was dramatic enough that today's testimony is still must-see TV. For millennials who missed out on Watergate and Iran-Contra, this is their shot (no pun intended) at witnessing what could be generation-defining history.