Tuesday, May 16, 2017

NEWS: Another day, another scandal

The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that James Comey kept a paper trail of contemporaneous notes he made after each meeting with the president.   This one concerns a meeting on Feb. 14, 2017, one day after Michael Flynn was fired and about two weeks after that one-on-one dinner during which Comey says Trump asked him for a pledge of loyalty.  (He proably has notes on that one too.)

Comey says that, following an Oval Office meeting that included VP Pence and AG Sessions, the president asked Pence and Sessions to leave so he could have a one-on-one meeting with Comey.   During that private meeting, Comey claims that Trump said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.  He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”   Comey says that he simply agreed that Flynn is a good guy, but he made no comment about the investigation itself.

From the words we have, it was more like a wishful suggestion;  he did not order it;  he did not threaten him if he did not.    On its face, it does not rise to the level of attempt to obstruct justice, even though it definitely felt like an attempt to influence the investigation.   So Comey made his notes, told a few select close confidantes, but kept it from those involved in the investigation so as not to influence their work on the case.

As part of an accumulation of actions and failures by this president, however, it adds to the growing weight that should eventually lead Republican House members to set impeachment procedure in motion.

Why did Trump ask Pence and Sessions to leave?   That is the most convincing evidence that Trump was up to something he didn't want known.   The next step is for Comey to testify, in an open hearing, as he prefers, and to present his notes and discuss the whole experience.

The White House has denied Comey's account of what happened in that meeting.  But there is no question that Comey did write those contemporaneous notes.  It is consistent with FBI practice, and with Comey in particular.   I'd believe Comey over Trump, ten times before breakfast.


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