Alternative Title: Rat in a Corner — Who You Gonna Believe?
It didn’t take long for President Trump to dispute the stunning facts set out in James Comey’s testimony on Thursday. Trump’s apparently strong conviction in his assertion that Comey lied under oath (and also has misled Special Prosecutor Mueller by providing him with false information about Trump’s conduct) may give some people pause. Trump even says he will speak under oath about the critical meetings with Comey but stops short of saying that he will stand cross-examination as Comey did.
Is Trump’s assertion another version of “I will definitely release my tax returns?”
I suggest that Trump has flatly disputed Comey’s narrative because he had no choice. Could he conceivably have remained silent in the face of the allegations that he pressured Comey to end investigation of Michael Flynn and lighten up on the Trump-Russia investigation? I suggest that the answer can only be ‘no.’ Trump’s silence would have been construed as acquiescence and that is one thing he cannot afford to do now that the suspicions about his conduct have become fixed.
Still, the question remains: who is to be believed? The answer is Comey and there are multiple compelling reasons for that conclusion.
First, it is not disputed that Trump directed other persons present to leave the room before speaking to Comey. Is there a plausible reason for this other than “I know what I am about to do is wrong and I don’t want witnesses to it?”
Second, Comey says he immediately wrote down detailed notes of what had transpired. This was done on a “classified computer” and thus can be verified as to date and time of creation. Comey obviously knows that. Is it plausible then to believe that he created a contemporaneous false narrative to destroy the President? Bear in mind that Comey’s written testimony before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee was based on those notes and that Comey gave the notes to Special Prosecutor Mueller before testifying?
Third, weeks ago Trump implied in a tweet that he might have “tapes” of the meeting(s) with Comey. Subsequently, he has refused to confirm that such “tapes” exist and his White House staff claims either not to know. After Comey’s testimony, in which he said he would welcome release of the tapes if they exist, Trump has continued to refuse to confirm the existence of the tapes. I suggest that this is a classic Trump negotiating tactic and that he has to be bluffing. Why? Because Trump had to know what actually happened during the Comey meetings and if he had “tapes” that would completely destroy Comey’s credibility and serve as major pushback against the Trump-Russia investigation, he would have released them by now.
Finally, there is the matter of general credibility. Comey has a distinguished career in law enforcement and is highly respected by anyone with a shred of objectivity and, reluctantly, by some who have sacrificed their credibility in support of Trump. Contrast that history with Trump’s history of lies before, during and after his election. There are lists of these all over the Internet, so I will not repeat them here. This comparison is “no contest” – Trump loses.
In the interest of balance, I do acknowledge, as I have in another post, that Comey made some mistakes in handling the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but these are not mistakes of credibility. They were mistakes of judgment. And, of course, there is the fact that the Clinton investigation mistakes worked to Trump’s advantage and may well have pushed Trump over the finish line in 2016. No joy for Trump in this.
Thus far, then, Trump is putting his credibility squarely on the line against Comey. Someone is lying, bigly. This looks like a losing proposition for Trump. Notwithstanding the weakness of Trump’s position, his political base, and the Republican Party co-conspirators and sycophants in Congress, continue to support him. They appear ready to do down with the ship.
From here on, the key for the country is for the Democrats in Congress and the Democratic base, regardless of preferences in 2016 (get over it), must engage in a relentless, all-hands-on-deck resistance to Trump’s agenda. Republicans will not move against Trump unless and until he is both failing as the chief executive of the country and conclusively humiliated as having engaged in obstruction of justice and lied about it.
The reality is that not all Americans want the same political outcomes. Personally, I think the rise of sharply right conservative political majorities in many states during the same period that the US was recovering from the 2d worst economic recession in history under the leadership of a Black man as president, faced with the implacable resistance at every turn by the Republican Party, is a hugely disturbing development. There are likely multiple explanations, many of which will not be fully understood for some years, but one of them is the “discovery” that the country still harbors huge numbers of racists. Liberals thought the election of Obama proved that racism had been largely vanquished, but they were wrong. It is also true, I believe, that the isolationist attitudes of huge swaths of the American electorate, demonstrated before and after WWII, are still pervasive. The failure of our education system to lift up the minority population and the rural population leaves us with large population groups that are poorly or not-at-all educated, who distrust “experts,” who now say in polls that universities are harming the country has left us with a huge population of people susceptible to someone like Donald Trump. The true conservative point of view, though I largely disagree with it, is a valid position, but Trump is not a conservative; he’s not really a Republican. His followers, however, don’t care that he lies more than he tells the truth, are incapable of evaluating his absurd claims that he can restore coal to its former glory, don’t care what he does to the environment or the effects it will have on their descendants, and on and on. They, however, are not the majority of Americans. The majority who voted, voted for Clinton, not Trump. Trump was elected by small majorities in a handful of states. Kansas is now reeling from the effects of Republican ideological purity. In short, the Republican majorities of the past decade are not likely a permanent state. But, and this was my original point, the Democrats have to do some things differently going forward if they hope to recapture the initiative. Whether they will remains to be seen.
I think Donald Trump is already clearly failing as the chief executive, but I wonder how far things have to go before Republicans define his performance as failure.
I have no answer to that but do believe that the Resistance must move from No to a combination of No, plus an affirmative Democratic program of realistic progressive ideas, plus a concerted effort to reach Trump’s base with the truth about their situation and what produced it. Most Trump supporters will continue to believe, no matter what the reality, but I believe many of them are reachable if the approach is well-considered. I am most concerned right now to see the continued infighting among Democrats — Bernie v Hillary continued — which is wasteful and worse. Time to get together and rewrite the past so it does not become the future. Time is running out.
progressive ideas? what would make you think progressivism is what America wants?… Use the last 8 yrs of elections to factor a coherent reply.