The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Comey Day

Rich Galen

Thursday June 8, 2017

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  • It is 8 AM on the day that former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. I am sitting at my desk, in my office, in downtown Washington, DC.

  • I wanted to have a good seat for when the hearing starts in two hours.

  • I have never seen anything like this.

  • We didn't live here in 1974, so we watched the Watergate hearings from Marietta, Ohio (45750) when the public TV station replayed them at night.

  • You've read about the bars opening early here today and at least one offering free shots every time President Donald Trump Tweets during the hearing. They didn't have to give away any freebies: The President didn't Tweet, although his son did.

  • No readout on whether Don, Jr's Tweets counted.

  • This town is so overwhelmed with all this that the guy who takes my money in the parking garage wanted to talk about what I thought Comey might say.

  • I can't speak to what's going on in Marietta or Park City, Utah, or Dallas, Texas. Maybe there is that same breathless anticipation that I feel here.

  • I doubt it.

  • I love a good political story as much as the next guy who writes a column twice-a-week. But, I am uncomfortable about treating this hearing like it is a major sporting event. MSNBC has live coverage from the empty hearing room setting the stage. They and the other cable nets have guest after guest talking about what may happen, what they hope will happen, what they fear might happen.

  • I go back and forth. I find myself arguing with whomever is on the screen. James Comey was not the Lone Ranger - or shouldn't have been - who found himself in the middle of a gun battle with the bad guys in the canyon.

  • Comey rode into that canyon. Waved his gun in the air and said, in effect, "Come and get me, if you think you can."

  • Donald Trump, whose gun was bigger, showed up and got him.

  • It is unseemly to choose up sides. It is inappropriate to, at least internally, cheer or boo at every question and every answer. It is improper to treat this like it is a major sporting event with little at stake but bragging rights at the end.

  • Yet, that's what it has come to. Day 139 of the Trump Presidency is, like the entirety of the 2016 Presidential campaign: One episode of a political miniseries.

  • The rest of the world must think (a) we are inviting disaster by appearing to be embroiled in this chaos day-after-day, and (b) we are nuts.

  • It is now about 12:40 pm. There have been no bathroom breaks.

  • For the most part, both the Republicans and the Democrats on the Committee acted like adults - with the possible exception of Senator McCain who was (a) a guest and (b) seemed confused about what crime the FBI was investigating regarding Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server.

  • If anything, the one person who appears to be in the most jeopardy is Attorney General Jeff Sessions about whom Comey said he would speak more in the closed session this afternoon.

  • We've watched James Comey testify before so we know he knows how to do this. His ability to maintain his focus for as long as he did, is remarkable.

  • Did the hearing live up to its billing? Yes. Sort of.

  • There was nothing in James Comey's testimony that would lead us to believe the President needs to call his wife and tell her not to bother moving down to Washington (as she is reputed to be planning to do this weekend).

  • But, there was also no reason to believe President Trump has been, as he lawyer said yesterday, "completely vindicated." Vindication may, in fact, be a few paces farther away today than it was yesterday.

  • James Comey appeared to have been a persuasive, credible, and - dare I say it - sympathetic witness.

  • To be continued.

-- END --

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