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The Comey hearing: More smoke, wrong fire

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About a month ago, National Review editor Rich Lowry called Trump “a human smoke-making machine . . . incapable of a little deftness.”  The headline of his opinion piece in Politico characterized the entire Trump-focused wing of the investigation into Russian election interference as “a scandal about smoke.”

When they saw all the Trump-fueled smoke, said Lowry, the Democrats wanted “to make fire.”  And when Comey suddenly decided he wanted to testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee, many on the Left christened this the Great Fire-Making Moment.

The narrative almost wrote itself.  Comey had been director of the FBI; Trump had fired him due to the Russia investigation; Trump had perhaps pressured Comey to let the investigation of Michael Flynn go.  Surely on June 8, the smoke would roll back to reveal a giant conflagration – Comey would accuse Trump of obstruction, let slip that Trump was part of a giant Russian conspiracy, reveal something, anything impeachable.  Doctor visits were canceled, watch parties were scheduled, and cable news networks broke out their countdown clocks.

What are those who pushed that narrative left with now?

Well, Comey did confirm that the leak of his memos was accurate, that Trump told him he “hoped” the Flynn investigation would be dropped because Flynn was, in Trump’s estimation, a “good guy.”  Comey said that due to Trump’s “imperceptible body language,” he took this as a direction to stop the investigation.

But Trump said the very same thing about Flynn to the press, if you recall.  And whatever Comey’s “feelings” about whether Trump meant what he said as a direction, it’s a stretch to use Comey’s feelings as the sole basis of obstruction.  To my knowledge, an “I hope” statement has never been used as the sole basis for an obstruction charge.

Comey went on to reveal that the president had made false public statements, didn’t seem to be that concerned about Russian election interference, had directly asked for his loyalty, and had fired him because of his handling of the Russia investigation.

None of that information was new.  More smoke; no fire.  Collective yawns all around.

Instead, the Comey hearing turned a flamethrower on the charred remains of the Clinton email investigation.  Comey revealed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had asked him to refer to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s email server as a “matter” rather than an “investigation.”  Perhaps not so coincidentally, this is the rhetoric the Clinton campaign was using at the same time.

What’s that?  Evidence of Lynch’s DOJ colluding with the Democratic Party?  Will wonders never cease.

It’s astonishing to me that Comey chose not to investigate Loretta Lynch in relation to the Clinton email imbroglio after his encounter with her, especially given Lynch’s well-documented meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Arizona.  Lynch’s alleged interference in the Clinton investigation must not have had as much “intent” as that alleged in the Trump investigation, I suppose.

Comey’s hearing boiled down to a long, drawn-out attempt by Comey to justify his actions in the Clinton and Trump investigations by slant. It really didn’t work.

Nothing said at the Comey hearing changed my opinion that Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation and the Russia election investigation both bordered on incompetence.  Frankly, that’s the only justification Trump needed for his firing, though that’s not the one he gave.  As Mr. Lowry said almost a month ago, Trump reliably produces smoke, but even after today’s circus, I see no accompanying fire.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Bryan Woodsmall

    June 9, 2017 at 9:36 am

    This is an interesting piece, and you make some good points.

    However, if there is “no fire” in the Trump smoke, then why is the info about Lynch’s alleged interference, which you say had “as much ‘intent’ as that alleged in the Trump investigation” tantamount to a “flamethrower”?

    The “intent” is “as much”, yet with one it is only smoke, and with the other it is a flamethrower. I don’t get that.

    I enjoyed the article. It was informative and thought provoking. But elevating the revelations about Lynch as being more damning than the info about Trump seems like partisan spin to me. In fact, both are bad. Some of the info about Lynch is new. That is one difference. Also, Lynch tried to give the appearance of being above the fray, while Trump doesn’t really try to hide his dishonesty and lack of principles. But if Trump’s problems are just smoke, then so are Lynch’s.

    • Connor Mighell

      June 9, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Hi, Bryan. Thanks for your comment. The sentence about “intent” which left you so bewildered was meant as a joke. When Comey announced that he wasn’t going to recommend charges against Clinton in the email scandal. Comey justified his actions by saying he found no evidence Clinton intended to do anything illegal. However, the crime Clinton allegedly committed does not require proof of intent to establish guilt. My statement about Lynch’s intent was meant as a joke about Comey’s ability to treat intent as consequential in cases when it isn’t. Once again, thanks for reading.

  2. Bryan Woodsmall

    June 9, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Ok, I see that I missed the joke, and I missed the word “not” which I now understand as sarcasm that seems more to suggest that Lynch’s interference was perhaps worse than Trump’s, rather than suggest equivalence.

    At any rate, your point was NOT to say they were of similar seriousness, so my bad.

    Still, while I agree that the revelation that Lynch asked Comey to use the word “matter” instead of “investigation” is a big deal, I don’t see it as a “flamethrower” vs. just “smoke” from the Trump situation. For one thing, asking the FBI to assist with spin doesn’t constitute interference in the investigation itself. It is totally improper for sure, especially since it is the same word the Clinton administration was using, but it still doesn’t amount to actually interfering with the investigation.

    Your point about Comey treating intent as consequential when it isn’t is well taken. It kind of seemed like he was trying to thread a needle with a legal and logical explanation for his decision. I don’t know the law well enough to know whether he succeeded. However, in my opinion his actions were very beneficial to the Republican candidate (I’m not saying it was intentional). Had he indicted Clinton, I think she would have been replaced as the Democratic nominee. The new nominee would have had a headwind due to not being chosen by the normal process, but probably would have been a MUCH better candidate than Hillary Clinton. By not indicting her he took away the Dems need to replace her, and by being very critical of her he helped her opponent. So it was a win-win for Trump. And then he disclosed very late in the race that more emails had come to light, and needed to be looked at. I won’t argue either way whether that tipped the election, but it was helpful to Trump in a close race.

    I am not knowledgeable enough to assess Comey’s competence or lack thereof, but I think Trump supporters should be grateful for the way he handled the Clinton investigation.

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Media

Trump failed with Putin due to anti-Trump Republicans and fake news

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Following Trump’s bizarre performance at the Helsinki Summit with his BFF Vladimir Putin, bi-partisan condemnation of his press conference was swift and severe after he expressed his willingness to accept Putin’s word that Russia didn’t interfere with the 2016 election, despite findings by US intelligence proving otherwise.

Not to worry, though. Following this backlash, and now that he’s home and a safe distance away from Putin, Trump’s false bravado was back on full display yesterday as he attempted to backtrack from his previous statements about Russian interference.

According to Trump, he didn’t reject US intelligence in favor of Russia; he simply misspoke. He’s always believed Russia interfered. He’s just a victim of the English language.

“The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative. So you can put that in and I think it probably clarifies things pretty good.

“I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections.”

But Trump’s difficulty with contractions isn’t the only reason for this apparent misunderstanding. Not at all. The real culprit, as is always the case when the news is unfavorable, is the “Fake News” media.

Sadly, criticism of Trump’s Helsinki remarks has been noticeably missing in some so-called conservative circles in Washington and in the media. Not only that, they have joined the Trump echo chamber in defending him.

For example, according to Trump, Sen. Rand Paul agreed with his claim that the Mueller investigation was responsible for Trump’s troubling comments.

Additionally, in an interview with Trump Pravda (FOX News), Paul called out Republicans who criticized Trump, labelling them pro-war and/or anti-Trump for doing so.

“Republicans that are making the criticism are either the pro-war Republicans like McCain and Graham or the anti-Trump ones like Sasse … They are motivated by their persistent and consistent dislike of the president.”

In the House of Representatives, so-called conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus embraced Trump’s “Fake News” mantra, arguing that the media’s criticism of Trump’s statements had overshadowed his accomplishments concerning Russia. At least, that’s how Freedom Caucus member Rep Warren Davidson sees it:

“The reality is people are upset about what President Trump said, but they’re not giving him credit for what he’s done.”

Is it just me, or shouldn’t what you say jive with what you do? I think they call that walking the talk.

Meanwhile, sounding like he wrote Trump’s “Fake News” talking points, the conservative talk show host formerly known as Rush Limbaugh, also blames the media for Trump’s pro-Russia comments, saying that their “embarrassingly shallow and puerile, infantile questions” were responsible.

So, take heart, America. Trump didn’t mean what he said when he said it. He was simply playing 3-D chess with the Russian President, and anyone who thinks otherwise only does so because they are pro-war, anti-Trump, and they believe fake news.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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Foreign Affairs

Being American doesn’t mean ignoring facts. Ron Paul right about Trump-Putin meeting.

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In the era of torn Russian relations, Ron Paul takes a step back and views more information than almost any pundit on air or on twitter. It’s bipartisan to hate Russian, and that causes many Americans to hold inconsistent views on foreign policy issues related to Russia.

The media’s coverage on all things related to Russia was bad before it’s terrible coverage of Trump. We need a balanced factual approach to foreign relations with Russia. Not everything is Russia’s fault. America needs a new approach to Russia, and Trump can bring that.

John Kerry spent so much time picking losing battles with Russia and the United States needs to move on from these geopolitical skirmishes. Part of this means throwing the Obama administration under the bus. Between John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, US interests in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe faced setbacks. Only then can we have a better relationship with Russia.

I appreciate Ron Paul’s perspective because, in an era of hot takes and the political popularity of Russia hating, he maintains a just perspective that embraces facts.

US Russia Factsheet

US and Russia

  • These two countries have the largest nuclear arsenal
  • US military currently miles ahead of Russia
  • Relations have ever been good
  • Both (sort of) friends with the Kurds
  • Russia largely used as scapegoat, punching bags in American politics
  • Trump administration upped military spending
  • US through NATO still practices a containment policy with regards to Russia
  • Both countries have issues with Islamic terrorism
  • Working together on North Korea issue

Russia

  • Is not a free country
  • Does not pretend to be a free country (like Europe)
  • Its people largely view the break up of the Soviet Union as a tragedy (regardless of feelings about communism)
  • Actually likes Putin, a lot (strangely)
  • Has had Putin at the helm for decades

Iran

  • Putin came out in affirmation of the Iran Deal
  • Trump remained opposed
  • This point of contention was largely ignored by the media
  • Russia and Iran are allies
  • Iran taking control of Iraq through Shia paramilitaries
  • Backs Houthi rebels in Yemen

Iraq

  • Invaded by the US in 2003
  • War lost when the Obama Administration refused to negotiate a status of forces agreement
  • Iraqi military fell apart to ISIS when they invaded from Syria
  • Iranian backed militias filled the vacuum
  • Status of Kurds unclear

Syria

Ukraine

Turkey

  • Turkey is a member of NATO
  • Turkey opposes Israel
  • Turkey provoked war with Russia by downing Russian jet
  • Turkey becoming increasingly Islamic under neo-Ottoman regime
  • Kemalism was killed in the attempted coup
  • Ergodan held a referendum to grant himself more power
  • Russia and Turkey have an arrangement in Syria to not fight each other
  • Turkey performing land grab in Syria
  • Turkey killing Kurds in Syria
  • Turkey backing its own Islamist in Syria

Israel

  • Trump administration the most Israel-friendly administration in US history
  • Russia opposes Israel on a geopolitical level (along with most US allies)
  • Russia backs enemies of Israel
  • US backs enemies of Israel (Saudis)
  • Israel believed to have nuclear capabilities

Libya

  • US and Russia back differing factions
  • US played large role in destabilizing region during the rebellion
  • Terrorist that America aided attack a US consulate and murdered four people, including Ambassador Stevens

2016 Election

  • US has long history of meddling in foreign elections
  • Russian meddling had no effect on the outcome of 2016 election
  • DNC never handed over server to investigators
  • Indictments are not convictions, not even close
  • Russia should be embarrassed if that was their attempt to interfere in a US election
  • Media overplaying story because they dislike Trump

US Agencies

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Culture and Religion

Video: What is a Classical Liberal?

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A short video making the point that the Left is no longer Liberal, having traded individualism for collectivism.

In one of their first animated video shorts, the Rubin Report discusses the vitally important topic of just who is a Classical Liberal.

OUR FIRST ANIMATED VIDEO! What is a Classical Liberal?

Liberalism has been confused with Leftism or progressivism, which is actually has nothing to do with classical Liberalism. Sadly the Left is no longer Liberal at all for it has traded individualism for collectivism.

The Rubin Report
Published on Jul 10, 2018

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