He Said, He Said. Comey vs Trump

As you may know, there’s been an uproar over the sudden firing of FBI Directory Comey. It raised many questions for various reasons. Presidents don’t typically fire FBI directors. It’s only ever happened once before. And FBI directors, as with all law enforcement, are expected to remain apolitical. FBI directors have 10 year appointments and generally enjoy near total bi-partisan support when appointed.

So when an FBI director is hastily fired, it raises questions. Considering that the Trump campaign is under investigation by the FBI, questions become almost inevitable. Why now? Who’s idea was it? What were the circumstances that lead to the decision? Why such drastic changes to the official explanation? It’s clear from the shifting reasons provided by the White House, something unusual is going on. Explanations never change so significantly over such a frenzied period without good reason.

So, here’s a quick explanation of what is probably going on.

As was recently reported, Comey had asked for resources to expand his probe into the campaign investigation sometime in the not-to-distant past. This information made its way to the Oval Office where Trump decided it was time to act. He fired him immediately and has plans to replace him with someone who will let the investigations die.

But it turns out Trump invited Comey to the White House in January. He already knew he was under investigation or soon would be. He wanted to feel Comey out. Would he pledge loyalty to Trump, or would he follow the investigation wherever it led? In Trump’s mind, it couldn’t be both, and he soon had his answer. He couldn’t count on the FBI director’s unquestioning support.

At the meeting, Trump says Comey asked to keep his job. Comey says Trump asked for loyalty. Given that Trump invited Comey, and that Trump knew his campaign was being investigated, Comey’s version is a far more believable scenario.

Last week, Trump threatened Comey publicly with the existence of recordings by directly suggesting that he may have made “tapes” and that Comey said damaging or possibly illegal things during their meeting. This is a highly unlikely scenario for a number of reasons. First and foremost among them, it’s probably safe to assume Donald Trump doesn’t want his private conversations recorded by anyone for any reason, “believe me!”. Second, why would Trump invite the FBI director to the White House and then make a recording of the conversation? Did the President believe in advance that the FBI Director would, during their first meeting, admit to a crime? That’s just very unlikely.

So let’s just assume for now that the now-infamous tapes tweet was just an empty threat and there are no tapes. But regardless of the existence of tapes, Trump is clearly threatening Comey, the man he just fired. When someone threatens you about ‘leaking’, there’s usually a motivating factor. So Trump is clearly motivated by something.

And since Trump is threatening Comey, then that leads to a very plausible explanation for why Comey has declined to testify in front of congress, even in private. He WANTS to tell his side of this story but he can’t. He’s being publicly, brazenly threatened by the most powerful man on Earth who’s also a billionaire. Would you testify?

Meanwhile, the former FBI director doesn’t want to appear like a disgruntled employee. He’s got the respect and support of his former organization to consider as well as the public. He can’t go on camera and willingly spill the beans on Donald Trump without losing a lot of respect from both within his old organization and without. Not because anyone loves Trump, but because the leader of the nations most respected law enforcement organization can’t be a loose lipped individual.

But Comey is no idiot. He knows his revenge will come soon enough and he’ll be able to tell the world what happened. He just doesn’t want the world to think he did it to get back at Trump. So he’ll wait, because he knows eventually he’ll be subpoenaed. Then he can spill the beans without anyone thinking he’s trying to get back at his old boss. Plus, there’s far more impact and respect if your testimony has to be subpoenaed.

Meanwhile, Trump’s original plan was to ask the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to submit a memo that would be used as justification for the bloodletting. This would give Trump the rationale to fire Comey without the appearance of a cover-up as he attempted to interfere with the FBI’s ongoing investigation. But problems arose when Trump declined to tell Rosenstein that he would rely on that letter as the primary justification, pinning the entire decision on Rosenstein’s shoulders. For Rosenstein, it was a bridge too far. He revolted and threatened Trump with a resignation if the explanation wasn’t retracted. At this point, Trump realized that he had to take over the messaging so he quickly sat down for a rare one on one interview with Lester Holt, one of the most respected names in journalism, to ‘set the record straight’.

Realizing the cover story had fallen apart, he quickly took the blame for the decision to let Comey go, but went further, forcefully diminishing the importance of the memo by saying he had already made up his mind long before the memo was written. But this only leads to another curious question: Why would Trump ask the Deputy AG for a letter he planned on ignoring and didn’t need? The only plausible explanation was that he wanted to use it as a cover story and rationale in the firing of Comey.

The best defense is a good offense. This was never truer for any individual than Trump. He threatened Comey and the media in general. He explained that his staff can’t possibly get all the facts correct at their own press briefings and he even threatened to cancel them altogether, providing written statements instead, and doing a presser every two weeks.

So, Trump is looking more and more desperate – at least desperate enough that he felt it was worth taking extraordinary risks like firing the FBI director, and asking for the creation a cockamamie excuse (in memo form) he planned to pin on fall guy Rosenstein without so much as a head’s up. Those are huge risks to take, and it’s reasonable to assume there’s an equally large and damaging reason for taking them.

What is Trump so afraid they’ll uncover in this Russian meddling probe? I guess we’ll eventually find out. Whatever he’s trying to hide, his only hope is to appoint an FBI director who won’t pursue the already open investigations. Someone “Loyal”.

 

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