Former FBI Director James Comey's Senate hearing on Thursday transfixed the nation. But what was the takeaway? Our political analysts Victoria DeFrancesco Soto and Stephen A. Nuño were glued to their TVs too; their opinions are below.
Opinion: The GOP Knows Something Stinks, But It's Still Drip, Drip, Drip
Anti-climatic; that’s what former FBI Director James Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence committee was.
Most of the thrill of surprise was taken out because he released his statement a day before his hearing. And even before then the media had pieced the narrative together. Then, finally there’s the former FBI Director’s silky smooth professional demeanor. There was no question that he did not foresee and manage with confident ease.
At the end of Comey’s much anticipated public testimony there was nothing remotely resembling a Russia-Trump smoking gun. The most sensational part of the hearing was the repeated reference to President Trump as a liar. For those who are no fans of Trump that was stating the obvious. But for James Comey, steeped in the protocol of Washington D.C., that was some X-rated stuff.
So what can we take away from today’s hearing?
First, the drip, drip, drip continues. Director Comey’s hearing and his released statement continue the storyline of legally questionable actions by President Trump. The connection between Russia and Trump has smelled funny for a while. Today’s testimony did not put a cap on that funky smell but instead fanned it’s stink.
James Comey’s testimony was not an end point. The Russia probe will only accelerate in the public and media sphere now with the appointment of former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, as special counsel. Even the GOP, the President’s own party, is finding it increasingly difficult to have Trump’s back. A point that gets us to the second takeaway from today.
The GOP may not have Trump’s back but they didn’t throw him under the bus either. Texas Senator John Cornyn was masterful at changing the subject at hand and focusing on Clinton’s e-mail server. Then there’s Senator Susan Collins from Maine who also ran interference by highlighting that Comey was actually in the wrong for having passed along his meeting memos to the press via his friend.
Even Senator Marco Rubio, Trump’s one-time arch-nemesis pitched in by stating that he didn’t think Trump impeded the FBI investigation. He admitted that it was a bad idea but that he didn’t think it was criminal.
These Republican Senators and other members of the GOP know something stinks. But they’re taking a pass, at least for now, on opening up the moldy stinky Tupperware that is the Trump-Russia connection. President Trump may not have high approval but his voters make up a key part of the GOP constituency and these elected officials know all too well who they answer to.
The hope for the future of this country, beyond partisan considerations, is that the real Trump-Russia story is aired out and that the drip, drip, drip of information continues to build.
Opinion: Why, Senator Rubio, Are You Carrying Water for Trump?
The Russia affair embroiling the Trump administration is revealing more about the Republicans than it is about Donald Trump. President Donald Trump is a liar. That much is true. And after James Comey's testimony, we came away affirmed that at least Donald Trump is consistent. Trump has never shown an once of integrity and there's little reason to believe Comey is lying about Trump's interactions with him because they are entirely consistent with the manner in which Trump has handled himself his entire life.
The frequency and comfort with which President Trump lies astonishes even Washington D.C. Whether he is lying about the tiles in a nursery in his West Palm Beach club, that President Obama is from Kenya, or that he would make Mexico pay for a wall, President Trump embodies the worst America has to offer. He has appointed cabinet members who are fundamentally opposed to the mission of the department they were asked to lead, and he has appointed an Attorney General determined to roll back the gains the country has made in civil rights.
Trump has the impulses of a dictator and he has zero respect for the norms of our democracy, which is all the more troubling since the Republican Party has circled their wagons around Donald Trump and make up the only barrier to Trump from being removed from office. Most disappointing, though no less surprising, has been Senator Marco Rubio's demonstrable duty to party over country over the last four months.
I find it darkly ironic that Marco Rubio is questioning Comey about his professional choices while compromising his own name in the process. Rubio asked Comey, "At the time, did you say anything to the president about — that is not an appropriate request, or did you tell the White House counsel, that is not an appropriate request, someone needs to go tell the president that he can’t do these things?" When Comey said no, he asked, "OK. Why?" Rubio sounds as if Trump's flirtation with obstruction of justice is somehow on Comey.
For a Senator who has exhaustedly touted his love for democracy and the values of this great republic, and has vilified the Castro regime for being a dictator, Senator Rubio seems to be curiously carrying water for the very embodiment of that which he claims to stand against. Without a drastic change in approach, that will be Marco Rubio's enduring legacy etched in history even at this young age.