President Donald Trump was right about this much: As he told NBC’s Lester Holt last month, former FBI chief James Comey, whom Trump had just fired, is a “showboat.”
As he sat before the Senate Intelligence Committee about to testify Thursday, Comey demonstrated that he knows how to set the stage in the theater of politics. Comey sat upright and expressionless as photographers snapped shots of his upstanding demeanor prior to his much-awaited testimony — one lawman challenging a sitting president before a Senate panel. Think: high noon.
In fact, Comey had set up his testimony brilliantly when he had the committee release a seven-page statement Wednesday in which he described five conversations he had with Trump concerning the FBI’s investigation into Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election.
The statement had Washington buzzing as it disclosed that Comey had been documenting his talks with Trump. Comey wrote of Trump’s inappropriate efforts to co-opt the FBI’s top G-man, by dangling the job before the man who loved the FBI, asking for his loyalty, suggesting that the FBI could let go a criminal investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, whom Trump had fired, and asking what Comey could do to “lift the cloud” of the Russian probe. The White House denies that Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty and that he back off the Flynn probe.
Senate Democrats praised Comey for standing up to Trump. But few Democrats voiced such respect in 2016 when Comey reopened an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a home-brew server for government emails. If Clinton had won in November, she likely would have fired Comey.