Comey Interview (Part 1)

Transcript here. My comments below the fold.

Mr Gowdy opens the questioning by asking about the Page and Strzok texts and whether Comey would have kept them on the Clinton and Trump investigations if he had known about them. Comey says of course not. This whole line of questioning is a waste of time unless they can prove Comey knew about them and kept them on anyway (ie, a perjury trap).

Finally, Gowdy asks about the Russian investigations. Comey says he thinks of them as two: a counterintelligence investigation into 4 Americans and an investigation into Russia interfering with the election.

The bit about four Americans is new. Who are we talking about? Carter Page, presumably. George Papadopoulos probably. Plus Manafort? Who else?

Gowdy asks who initiated the investigation. Comey says he does not recall. Gowdy suggests Strzok. Comey still does not recall and says he doesn't remember ever seeing the initiation document. Since the initiation document is what will get people in real trouble, of course he can't recall seeing it.

Gowdy asks more questions about obstruction of justice and Comey's firing, but gets stonewalled by Comey's lawyers.

Racliffe asks alot about the tarmac meeting and Comey's "not-decision" to recommend no charges in the Clinton email investigation. Comey seems to be potentially on the hook for lying about when he made the decision not to charge Clinton (before or after the interview) but he dances well and since when is lying to Congress a crime for Democrats?

Noteworthy that the Clinton interview did not mention the tarmac meeting at all.

Ratfcliffe brings up more contradictions between the existance of classified material in Clinton's email versus Clinton's and Comey's statements. Comey doesn't dance quite so well for this one.

Steve Cohen asks a bunch of easy questions. The only one of note is that Comey claims he never saw evidence of bias from Strzok, at least before reading the texts, which beggars belief.

Nadler asks about Mueller's team and conflicts. Comey says he is unaware of any "conflicted" people on Mueller's team. Since practically the whole team is conflicted in ways small or large. Most have contributed to Democrats. Some are donors to the Clinton foundation. Some have represented the Clinton Foundation or figures in the Clinton email investigation. Some have represented Obama. If Comey doesn't know this, it's because he doesn't want to know.

Comey denies being "social friends" with Mueller despite being professional colleagues for at least a decade, being willing to "bet his life" on Mueller making "the right choices", and being unable to imagine any facts that suggest Mueller might be biased or politically motivated. It's hard to accuse someone of lying about whether or not they are friends with someone else, but Comey's practically licking Mueller's jackboots. Probably because he has literally bet the rest of his life (outside of prison) that Mueller can sweep this all under the rug.

Nadler asks Comey to deny a lot of things that sound good when he denies them but might possibly come back later to bite him if demonstrated untrue. One of the riskiest elements is Comey says Strzok did not leak the fact that there was an ongoing investigation into Trump. We know Strzok was involved in leaks. Comey may be vulnerable here but would likely argue that he just didn't know (despite having read the IG report).

Comey continues to fall back on the idea that the October 28th letter hurt Clinton's election chances as proof of non-bias. That's not true. The letter was a desperate attempt to keep a lid on leaks that would expose the cover-up of Weiner's laptop containing Clinton's emails. In that sense the Oct 28th letter helped Clinton by keeping the FBI agent's tamped down.

Nadler asks Comey about harm that could result if people believe the FBI isn't credible. What neither party wants to acknowledge is that the damage is already done, and by the FBI's own behavior. The FBI is not credible, at least in political cases, and its spreading to other cases, in part because the FBI refuses to videotape interviews. Nadler is essentially arguing the credibility of the FBI requires a coverup, when the honest path is to say the lack of credibility of the FBI requires reform.

Ms Jackson Lee asks alot about Comey's announcements and decision regarding the Clinton email case. No one asks (so far) about Comey's own use of private email. She also asks about the Trump investigation and why (compared to the Clinton one) it wasn't announced publicly. She's trying to suggest pro-Trump bias here, or at least a sense that the Trump investigation was handled professionally, but let's not forget that that investigation was leaking like a sieve by design, and the FBI knew based on recently revealed email chains.

Comey claims Trump's question about Michael Flynn was "direction" and improper. But doesn't the President ultimately get to make decisions about prosecutorial priorities?

BOMBSHELL: Comey claims William Barr, Trump's nominee for AG, is a friend.

Gowdy compares Trump talking about Flynn to Obama talking about Clinton. It's a very good comparison. There is obviously a different standard being applied here. Gowdy did not bring up similar comments Obama made about the IRS investigation.

Gowdy makes Comey dance around the intent to deceive issue in the Flynn interview. Comey has practiced this one. He gives a good answer, claiming he was told FBI agents observed no physical indications of deception but that Flynn was still "obviously" lying. I just don't believe it's true.

On how Steele's information reached the FBI: "I don't know for sure. I have some recollection that he passed it to an agent that he knew and that that agent sent it on to headquarters. I think that's the way in which it reached the Counterintelligence Division, but I don't remember the specifics of that."

Funny how these memory problems develop about how the investigation started. And they continue about practically everything related to the Steele dossier, with the lawyers running implausible interference as well.

Gowdy makes the point that everything in Steele's dossier is hearsay and normally would be inadmissable in court.

Regarding the FISA application: "I don't know. I don't -- sitting here today,
I can't remember the word verified." He can't say he did because he just testified that the verification process had only begun when he signed the FISA warrant application.

BOMBSHELL: Comey's lawyers claim that the agreement to testify allows them to reject questions related to ongoing investigations, classified information, or law enforcement sensitive information.

Comey "doesn't recall" anything about the FISA application he signed that has been a national media obsession for more than 2 years now. Bullshit. He even says he "hasn't looked at the thing" (probably the dossier, since he said he reviewed the application, but the dossier is in the application, so...). He "just doesn't know enough about what happened to offer a view". He's the director of the FBI authorizing an investigation into a Presidential campaign during an election year and he doesn't know enough about it to offer a view?

Ratcliffe catches Comey out on the contradiction between "verified to the court" and "salicious and unverified" to Congress.

Comey says "I am not aware" of any communications or contact between Steele and Ohr. Such contact has been admitted to before Congress in sworn testimony, as I recall, with some publicity.

BOMBSHELL: Comey testifies that he first learned of potential American involvement was the last week of July with Popadopoulos... but then walks it back and says "it's possible I knew at the time."

BOMBSHELL: Meadows catches the contradiction with Baker's testimoney. Baker has said he got information from Perkins-Coie and passed it on, now Comey is saying he didn't know where it came from.

After a break, Comey is questioned about excultaptory information in the application and he says he doesn't think that there is a Brady obligation (to turn over exculpatory information) because otherwise "you would have to turn over your entire file". I think this is clearly in error; remember the FISA court is relying entirely on the FBI here, there is no adversarial process. If the FBI can withhold exculpatory information here, they can spy on anyone. This is, at minimum, an admission of incompetence and negligence. Of course, he has to say that to defend his actions in signing the warrant.

Comey says he has no concerns about what happened concerning Carter Page -- then or now.

We get some cross-examination on timing and investigative steps taken by Strzok before the end of July. Comey: I remember the cases being opened at the end of July, and I don't know the nature and quality of any work that went on before that. Suddenly he remembers there was work going on before the end of July, but distances himself from it... but he doesn't remember whether any of that involved traveling to foreign countries or interviewing witnesses. How convenient!

BOMBSHELL: Comey can't answer when he learned about the Trump tower meeting because it's related to Mueller's investigation. This implies, to me, that he knew about it before the official investigation was opened in late July.

Democratic questioning about Trump and Obama.

Raskin asks Comey about a lot of things, including inviting him to expand on his comparison of Trump to a mob boss. Comey apparently thinks that the DOJ and the FBI are independent agencies that owe no loyalty to the executive branch and the President. Comey apparently is too dense to consider that Trump's demands for loyalty might be related to other, contrasting, loyalties Comey demonstratably has to the Deep State.

I don't think presidents are entitled to an FBI Director who is personally loyal to the point of covering up their crimes, but I do think presidents are entitled to an FBI Director who will follow the President's instructions within the law and refrain from plotting, backstabbing (politically or otherwise), wiretapping (looking at you, Rosenstein), or otherwise being weasels. If Comey thought he was being asked to do something illegal, he should have resigned immediately. Failing to do so was a weasel move.

Instead, Trump was asking Comey a simple question: will you work for me, or against me? And that's a question the President is entitled to ask, and deserves an honest answer.

BOMBSHELL: Comey doesn't remember how he found out Sessions might recuse himself, but he admits holding off talking about his concerns with Sessions because of the recusal potential.

Comey denies knowing Ohr was passing info from Steele to DOJ. This may contradict the email chain recent leaks have discussed. Comey basically doesn't know anything about Steele.

Gowdy nails Comey on consciousness of guilt and Clinton's email deletion.

This entry was published Sat Dec 08 21:22:08 CST 2018 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2018-12-08 17:19:04.0. [Tweet]

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