Monday, April 16, 2018
Comey: Trump's "tremendous damage"
by Tom Sullivan
At the time of this writing, the rage tweets from Donald Trump about former FBI director James Comey have not yet re-started. But given Trump's insistence that hitting back is "a way of life" for him, a bully's life, we can expect that much consistency from him.
Comey's ABC interview last night with George Stephanopoulos was irritating for another reason. The choppiness of the editing left no sense of flow to the interview and excised a lot of nuance that, thankfully, remains in the lengthy transcript.
As reported, Comey did indeed liken Trump's style to that of a mafia family, a view taken from his early days as a prosecutor. His first meeting with Trump struck him in a similar way:
JAMES COMEY: There's an expression in the Mafia-- there's a distinction between a friend of yours and a friend of ours. A friend of yours is someone on the outside of the family, a friend of ours, a “amica nostra” is the way they talked about it in Sicilian, is part of the Family, capital F.
A key section addresses Comey's assessment of the president:
And I think the reason it was coming into my head was I felt this effort to make us all-- and maybe this wasn't their intention, but it's the way it felt to me, to make us all “amica nostra.” We're all part of the messaging, we're all part of the effort. The boss is at the head of the table and we're going to figure out together how to do this. And I think that's why it brought that strange memory back into my head.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You write that President Trump is unethical, untethered to the truth. Is Donald Trump unfit to be president?
Comey, however, does not believe Trump should be impeached. Not that the Mueller investigation might not turn up evidence of crimes, but that impeachment would "let the American people off the hook." They elected him; they have a duty to un-elect him.
JAMES COMEY: Yes. But not in the way m-- I often hear people talk about it. I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who's tracking conversations and knows what's going on. I don't think he's medically unfit to be president. I think he's morally unfit to be president.
A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they're pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that's not a policy statement. Again, I don't care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.
There's something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.
JAMES COMEY: Well, sure. Tha-- I-- I didn't mean to say that I want them to stop doing their investigation or whatever flows from that. But in a way, as a citizen, I think we owe it to each other to get off the couch and think about what unites us. I think about the people who supported Trump, and continue to support Trump.
Comey is perhaps, as critics charge, over-certain of his own rectitude even facing the consequences of his own misjudgments. He is also very focused on what is right and on the country's values as he sees them. Perhaps naively so. "If Comey's decision to release the letter on Oct. 28 was influenced by his interpretation of the polls," Nate Silver tweeted on Friday, "that really ought to cut against his image as an honorable, principled decision-maker. Instead, he was just being expedient and trying to save his own hide."
A lotta them come from families with a proud history of military service. And that's a wonderful thing. What did their fathers and grandfathers fight and die for? Not for immigration policy. Not for a tax policy. Not for Supreme Court justice. They fought and died for a set of ideas. The rule of law. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The truth.
That's what they fought and died for. And at some point, we have to focus on that and make sure that whoever's leading us embodies those and we judge that leader by their tether to those values. Then we'll go back to fighting like cats and dogs about all the things we normally fight about.
What failed in electing Trump was Americans abandoning the values Comey treasures. They embraced their baser selves rather than their better angels. Driven by fear, xenophobia, vulnerability, revenge, they elected someone unscrupulous to do their dirty work for them, a person whose actions they could disavow when the time comes and go back to admiring their white vinyl souls. Comey insists they not get away so cleanly. But in explaining how he expects them the find their way back, he launches into a Chauncey Gardiner-esque tale about forest fires bringing forth new growth after "tremendous damage."
We should all live so long.
Jonathan Swann of Axios advises readers to keep their eyes on the ball and not be distracted by the Comey Show:
"The main game for Trump — and the reason his agitation levels went through the roof the last two weeks — is what happened to Michael Cohen. Trump allies are exponentially more worried about the [New York feds'] probe and the prospect of investigators poring over Trump’s business dealings than they are anything Comey is saying."
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Undercover Blue 4/16/2018 06:00:00 AM