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.