Pragmatically Distributed was right, again.
Judged by his prepared remarks Comey will go before the Senate with only fragments of an obstruction of justice case he was building but did not finish in time.
His prepared remarks are somewhat weaker than what I expected, and my expectations were already low. Trump’s request that Comey look into dropping the case against Flynn dealt with a narrower investigation into a discussion held between Flynn and Russia during the Presidential transition, not a request to drop the broader counter-intelligence probe.
Since you asked, McCarthy, Flynn was grilled by the FBI because Comey had no evidence to backup an underlying conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
If there were strong evidence of a conspiracy, Comey surely wouldn’t have wasted valuable FBI time devoted to hunting for Comey’s next glowing headline by trying to trap Flynn on an ancillary procedural crime.
Once charges were filed against Flynn, and perhaps Manafort for not reporting income from Russia and Ukraine, the plan – as I believe it was – would be to keep records of new hostile encounters with an increasingly frustrated Trump until Comey had enough events to go public with accusations of obstruction of justice.
The salivating over Comey’s pending testimony among anti-Trumpers turns out to be a shadow of what Comey would have been able to deliver if he been given more time to passively-aggressively provoke Trump.
With the release of Comey’s opening statement, it’s finally beginning to dawn on a few anti-Trumpers that what Comey comments had assembled to date are arguably inappropriate, but still collectively inadequate to base an obstruction of justice case on.
CNN took down its “Comey Clock” soon after his remarks were posted.
And most of #NeverTrump was forced to concede Thursday’s testimony will be a letdown.
His testimony leaves Trump in a good position to spin to his own advantage Comey’s words. Trump and his surrogates can repeat that according to former FBI Director (A) Trump is not under investigation and (B) Trump did not obstruct the investigation.
There will be some attempt to counter-spin and say Comey is indicating obstruction may have been committed.
But this argument undermines anti-Trump because, in Scott Adams’ terms, it undermines Comey’s status in the public’s mind as a legal subject matter expert.
The image the public has of FBI Directors is that they, as experts, are supposed to know when a crime has been committed and what laws were violated.
If Comey dodges making a definitive statement about what Trump’s status is in the investigation or whether he did anything illegal, Comey’s appearance will be the opposite of what the public expects of FBI agents; namely, decisive, clear, and straightforward.
By equivocating on whether any of Trump’s actions amounts to obstruction or collusion with Russia, Comey will lose the deference he was given as a legal expert. Not sure who to believe if Comey can’t be relied on, the interest of the public will gradually drift away from the story.
Overall, this is has proven to be Geraldo’s vault for the Democrats and good news for Trump who will then be able to turn the tables and begin investigating the Obama administration’s illegal unmasking of not only Trump’s team but also other Republican candidates during the 2016 primaries.