In a last-ditch effort to make use of their energy to undermine particular counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Donald Trump and his marketing campaign, Republicans on the Home oversight and judiciary committees held a standoff with former FBI Director James Comey that culminated in a closed-door transcribed interview on Friday.
Home Republicans are utilizing their ultimate weeks within the majority to do all the pieces they will to undermine Mueller’s probe into potential collusion between Trump and Russia through the 2016 presidential election. As somebody who spent 5 years working on the Oversight Committee, I can inform you that to have interaction in any such hyper-partisan exercise simply weeks earlier than transitioning out of energy is a unprecedented abuse of the committee’s authority. And the truth that such a continuing occurred behind closed doorways, out of the general public eye, tells you all you could find out about why that is occurring at this explicit second.
It wasn’t that way back that Home Oversight Republicans like my former boss Darrell Issa (Calif.), Trey Gowdy (S.C.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) simply couldn’t say sufficient about transparency and the American individuals’s “proper to know.” However now, those self same Republicans are content material to conduct the American individuals’s enterprise out of their watchful eye.
Studying the transcript of the exchanges between Republicans and Comey, it’s clear why they didn’t need any of this on digicam.
Regardless of new filings from this week revealing unprecedented legal conduct between Trump and his closest advisers, Gowdy, the Oversight Committee chairman, posed to Comey a collection of questions on his information of pro-Hillary Clinton textual content messages between his subordinates ― questions rooted not in information however in utterly fictitious eventualities.
Gowdy then transitioned right into a line of questioning meant to entice Comey into revealing particulars concerning the FBI’s counterintelligence investigations into Russia, although doing so would immediately impede the continued Mueller probe. For that totally legitimate motive, authorized counsel made it clear that “something that goes to the particular counsel’s investigation can be off limits.” And but Republicans like Issa, and later Trump himself, whined to the media about Comey’s refusal to actively hinder the continued investigation.
On 245 events, former FBI Director James Comey informed Home investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t keep in mind issues when requested. Opened investigations on four People (not 2) – didn’t know who signed off and didn’t know Christopher Steele. All lies!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2018
From the onset, it was clear that the aim of this interview was to extract data from Comey concerning the Mueller probe and to selectively weaponize his responses to be able to undermine his credibility. Comey’s unwillingness to fall for the Republicans’ entice illustrates how overmatched they had been towards him ― which, once more, is why they needed this to occur behind closed doorways.
One of the insightful exchanges occurred when Gowdy requested Comey: “Who on the FBI has the authority to launch a counterintelligence investigation into a significant political marketing campaign, and would that finally need to be accredited by you?”
Comey’s response ― “I don’t know for a wide range of causes. I’ve by no means encountered a circumstance the place an investigation right into a political marketing campaign was launched” ― was a stark reminder that even to the previous FBI director, the investigation and credible allegations of Trump’s cooperation with Russia are actually unprecedented.
Of their desperation to attempt to save the president from Mueller, Republicans, who’re planning to convey Comey again for an additional day of closed-door questioning on Dec. 17, are operating the chance of giving Comey and committee Democrats a possibility to rehash a number of the most troubling moments of Trump’s time in workplace.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) used his time to ask Comey about Trump’s efforts to persuade Comey to “lay off the Flynn investigation.” Michael Flynn, Trump’s former nationwide safety adviser, has pleaded responsible to mendacity to the FBI and provided what courtroom filings from Mueller described as “substantial” cooperation with the investigation. Had Comey performed what Trump had requested of him, the Mueller probe may have unfolded very otherwise.
Home Judiciary Committee rating member (and soon-to-be Chairman) Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) pursued a line of questioning that will have made Trump livid had it been broadcast on TV. Nadler requested Comey how he would “characterize the particular counsel investigation and its significance, not solely to our nationwide safety, however as a method of restoring public confidence in our elections and legislation enforcement companies?”
“My judgment as an skilled prosecutor and investigator is it’s been carried out with extraordinary pace, with extraordinary professionalism, and nil disclosure exterior of public courtroom filings,” Comey replied. “It represents the way in which our legal justice system is meant to work investigating, and I imagine it’s extremely necessary to the rule of legislation on this nation and that the work be allowed to complete.”
Leakin’ James Comey should have set a file for who lied essentially the most to Congress in in the future. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This complete deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest individuals who would do something in order that I couldn’t develop into President. They’re now uncovered!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2018
One of the highly effective remarks Comey made on this continuing was immediately stating that “there will not be many issues I’d wager my life on. I’d wager my life that Bob Mueller will do issues the best means, the way in which we might all need, whether or not we’re Republicans or Democrats, the way in which People ought to need.”
Republicans are unwittingly giving Comey a platform to bolster the credibility of the Mueller probe and to take Trump to job for his relentless assaults on the FBI and Justice Division. Comey made the sobering statement that Trump’s lies “harm the flexibility of the FBI to be believed at a doorway or in a courtroom. That makes all of us much less secure… After they’re lied about consistently, it hurts the religion and confidence of the American individuals in them, and that’s unhealthy for all of us.”
A very powerful factor Comey stated throughout his six hours with the Home Judiciary and Oversight committees was a reminder to the American individuals of what’s actually at stake.
“The goal of the Russian effort in 2016 was to destabilize, undermine, injury our democracy,” he stated. “That was their overwhelming objective. And so you will have a international nation that’s attacking america of America in an effort to undermine that which is actually us, our democratic course of.”
“In order that’s a really critical risk,” he continued. “And understanding whether or not any People had been a part of that effort is extremely necessary, as a result of [of] the specter of these People by advantage of their alliance with the Russians would pose to our nation.”
It’s clearer than ever that Republicans have no real interest in what Comey actually has to say ― and no real interest in defending our democracy.
Kurt Bardella is a HuffPost columnist and served because the spokesperson and senior adviser for the Home Oversight and Authorities Reform Committee from 2009 to 2013. Observe him on Twitter: @kurtbardella.
- This text initially appeared on HuffPost.