Comey, Rogers, House Democrats And One Republican — The Only Adults At The Russia Hearing
Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed an active investigation into the Trump Campaign’s ties to the Russian government. He (and NSA Director Mike Rogers) also put-to-bed President Trump’s asinine accusation of Obama wiretapping.
Good job guys! This was normal, rational, competent, sensible behavior. Unable to answer every question, they politely declined when necessary.
Watching apolitical professionals (Comey hasn’t always behaved quite so apolitical) effectively work the room was surprisingly refreshing. They didn’t humiliate themselves. They didn’t demean their departments. They didn’t embarrass the nation.
The same can’t be said for most Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, Donald Trump and his factually repressed Administration. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the Committee and Trump Administration Transition member kicked off the first five minutes of the hearing with an oratorical, meaningless, who-gives-a-shit, partisan thud. He blabbed about Russia’s national (and international) transgressions (all of which we already knew). He discussed Vladimir Putin’s dangerous, callous, dictatorial leadership style (all of which we already knew). He took a self-serving swipe at President Obama (…who is only the subject of investigation in Donald Trump’s convoluted imagination). He complained about illegal surveillance of US citizens and indirectly attempted to steer the hearing in the “who leaked classified information” direction. There was no mention of the Democratic National Committee hack, Vladimir Putin’s interference in the election or the Trump Campaign’s alleged Russian collusion.
Nunes then appeared to take an unexpected, non-partisan step forward. He allotted ranking minority member, Adam Schiff, a generous (if not standard) fifteen minute opening statement. Schiff used this time to outline an extensive timeline of Trump associates’ ties to Russia. He wasn’t interrupted, nor was he cut short.
Comey and Rogers offered brief opening statements and it was off to races. A sensible, non-partisan, “let’s follow the facts wherever they take us”, “save our Democracy” hearing was in process! Wo Hoo!
Not so much. GOP Representative Tom Rooney (first on the docket to question the Directors) put on his TV drama, prosecutorial dunce cap and went about the new conservative business of investigatory-leak-patrol. To hell with evidence of Russian interference, executive collusion and President Trump’s damming accusations!
This was to be the beginning of a bizarre, hours long, indirect, Republican led attempt to white wash reality. These seasoned patriots, these flag waiving, against all odds, no-matter-what, defenders of the Constitution would only focus on two distinct matters of concern:
Trey Gowdy (a former GOP zealot who oversaw the eight, meaningless Hillary Clinton, Benghazi investigation) toiled feverishly to craft a prosecutorial case against the alleged leakers (assuming they ever get caught). He also pressured Comey to “assure the American people the leaks were to be to be investigated.” Nearly every other Republican followed suit.
If there was a light of reasonable and responsible GOP sanity it may have been Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. She asked pointed, intelligent questions about the FBI investigation’s timeline. She also wanted to know who was hacked by the Russians and what’s being done to stop it from happening again.
Never one be outdone or upstaged, President Trump found a way to supersede Republican ineptitude and obstruction. His pre-hearing, irrational, nonsensical Tweetstorm covered a litany of unrelated or inaccurate topics:
The most striking, memorable and entertaining tweet arrived mid-hearing. It came directly from the the President’s official Twitter account, @POTUS
FBI Director Comey admits Obama's White House had ability to "unmask" American citizens. https://t.co/gIo6it9NcQ
If at first you don’t succeed, put out a new narrative. Why not? Epic bullshitting, a tried and true Trump administrative strategy has worked well. It usually dominates the headlines and redirects the news cycle.
The hearing, to this point, had been a pseudo-epic disaster for the administration. Might as well come up with some super EPIC BULLSHIT. Why not suggest President Obama or James Comey, himself, leaked classified information?
This time, at least thus far (March 20. 2017, 11:09 pm), it hasn’t worked. The news media has yet to take the bait.
How will Trumpland respond? Where will the FBI investigation take us? Will the warring, incompatible House Committee factions coalesce? What will the Senate investigation look like? Stay tuned.