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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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Judiciary

Jeff Flake has become a punchline

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Jeff Flake has become a punchline

There are conservatives who oppose the President through conscientious means and with discernment of who to support and what to oppose. Then, there are “conservatives” like Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

In his final days in the United States Senate, Flake has decided to go out with his conscience intact. At least that’s what he’s telling himself and anyone who would listen. In reality, he’s going out with his middle finger raised to the man he blames the most for his career failures: President Trump.

Flake has threatened to hold up judicial nominations until the Senate votes to protect special counsel Robert Mueller. Let’s set aside the likelihood that such an action by Congress would be unconstitutional with Article 2 giving the President wide powers over the Justice Department. That’s a debate for Constitutional scholars.

Instead, let’s focus on what Flake is actually doing. He’s willing to jeopardize the judicial system which desperately needs an infusion of originalists just to fire a parting blow at the President. That’s really what this comes down to. He’s not obeying his conscience. He’s not protecting Mueller. He’s not trying to right a wrong. He’s being a child.

He’s a punchline.

Even if there was a real threat that President Trump might somehow interfere with the Mueller investigation, this wouldn’t be the way to try to protect him. All Flake is doing is pulverizing the few pieces of his credibility that were left standing.

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Democrats

Good news for the Democrat agenda: McConnell and McCarthy will lead the GOP

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Good news for the Democrat agenda McConnell and McCarthy will lead the GOP

Trumplicans chalked one up for the status quo yesterday when they chose Paul Ryan’s right-hand man, Kevin McCarthy, to be the party leader in the House and unanimously re-elected Mitch McConnell to lead the Senate. Both men were endorsed by Donald Trump for the jobs.

Despite the fact that Republicans suffered the worst mid-term defeat since Watergate, McConnell and McCarthy touted a list of vague GOP accomplishments that conveniently failed to mention the party’s failure to keep their promises, which is why the Democrats won last week.

In an opinion piece for FOX News, McConnell bragged — now try not to laugh — about how the past two years of Republican leadership “will be remembered as a period of historic productivity.” He then challenged the new Democrat majority in the House to put aside partisan politics and work with Republicans to get things done.

Apparently, the concept of irony is lost on McConnell. Outside of the GOP’s alleged success at saving the Supreme Court, Democrats and Republicans have always been working together, which is why they still fund Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, DACA, and sanctuary cities with massive new spending that exploded the budget deficit.

While McConnell and McCarthy have adopted Trump’s “blame the Democrats for my failures” playbook, the sad reality is that Republicans favor the Democrat agenda because it’s their agenda; bipartisanship is a given.

Based on developments during the lame duck session, it’s going to be worse when the 116th Congress opens for business in January.

Nancy Pelosi called last week’s victory a mandate to save Obamacare and she will promote legislation designed to move America closer to a single-payer healthcare system. Trump has a track record of support for Obamacare and he promoted single-payer healthcare during his 2016 campaign.

Following the recent shootings in California, Pelosi announced that she would make gun control a top priority. Trump and the GOP have actively promoted radical gun-control legislation, including: seizing guns without due process, establishing an FBI database to track guns and gun owners, and requiring a license to own a gun.

Now comes word from the Democrats that they will work to bring back a classic of Bernie Sanders and Democratic Socialists — a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour. As expected, Trump appears to be a fan of the idea.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump supported raising the minimum wage to at least $10 and hour. And as part of the recent US-Mexico trade deal, he fought for and won a $16 an hour minimum wage for auto workers on both sides of the border in an effort to price Mexico out of the auto industry. Ironic because he’s essentially admitting that mandatory minimum wages eventually result in lost jobs.

Even thought economic advisor Larry Kudlow recently stated his preference to see the federal minimum wage eliminated, Trump’s history of flip-flopping on this along with a host of other issues, along with his 2020 re-election hopes, means that the Democrats will likely win on the issue.

We were repeatedly told last week to vote Red to make sure we stop the Democrats. But to quote Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings, when it comes to the difference between Republicans and Democrats . . .

“What difference, at this point, does it make?”

 

Originally posted on StridentConservative.com.

 


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.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Media

To advance conservatism, nobody gets a free pass

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To advance conservatism nobody gets a free pass

Before the midterm elections, most of the writers here spent a good chunk of their copy space helping Republicans in their campaigns. They focused on exposing Democrats for what they are (as well as what they’re becoming) and often turned their back on the negatives associated with Republican candidates.

This was intentional and I allowed it. Like many proponents of limited government, I compare the rhetoric and actions of the two major parties and I see one that’s pushing for big government and another that’s pushing for even bigger government. The fallacies in the Democrats’ proposals are obvious and universal. Republicans have a mix of good and bad; for example, lowering taxes was good, but simultaneously increasing spending was bad.

I allowed the pro-Republican approach because in the world of partisan politics, we’re stuck in a lesser-of-two-evils scenario. While I personally didn’t get involved in party politics and focused my posts on fighting for conservative and limited-government federalist values, I didn’t ask my writers to do the same. Any who chose to promote the Republican agenda, which was most of them, were allowed to do so.

They still can. I’m not censoring anyone. However, I want to be clear about the true purpose of this news site.

We are not a partisan site that is pro-Republican or anti-Democrat. We are a pro-American site that understands the importance of limiting government, defending freedoms, and protecting life, plus many other ideas that are usually associated with conservatism and/or classical liberalism.

Now that the election is over, we are relaunching our GoFundMe page.

Getting donations during campaign season was tough, but now we’re ready to accept help. We need it.

The description of our site on GoFundMe encapsulates what we are.

Our society is rapidly deteriorating into helplessness. Ideas such as self-governance, conservatism, patriotism, personal responsibility, limited-government federalism, and civil discourse are being threatened by a sharp leftward lurch. It isn’t just progressives who are veering to the left. The center is shifting to the left and as a result, many who are or were conservative have become more open-minded to the cultural and geopolitical shifts.

We are losing our ethical, traditional, and logical cores as a society.

NOQ Report has three goals:

1) Expose the fallacies of this leftward lurch that is making progressives more unhinged and conservatives more malleable.
2) Educate the masses about the benefits of liberty-driven philosophies that include limiting government, defending freedoms, and protecting life.
3) Engage with people in a meaningful way. We want a dialogue with everyone whether they agree or disagree with us.

America deserves better than what mainstream media feeds us.

Every dollar donated is invested back into the site to pay writers, editors, and to promote the site so it can reach more people. We have limited advertising on the site for a reason. We do not want “corporate overlords” who try to steer content, nor do we want to load the site with spammy ads. This is why we must rely on you, the readers, to keep the site afloat.

As of the middle of November, 2018, we are relaunching this campaign. We had a soft launch that had minimal success. We are pushing harder now. Please help us elevate this news site to compete against the incessant leftist propaganda being pumped onto the internet. Donate now.

Moving forward, we are going to focus on our three goals. It doesn’t matter if someone is a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or whatever. If they aren’t helping to limit government, defend freedoms, and protect life, we’ll call them out.

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