The latest episode in Trump's presidency revealed the true depth of his egotismby Calder Walton / June 9, 2017 / Leave a comment
In one of the most widely awaited events in recent US political history, James Comey, the former FBI Director fired by President Trump a month ago, testified yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Bars in Washington opened early, showing Comey’s testimony live on big-screen TVs. Welcome to the reality television show of US presidential politics, and counter-espionage probes, in which we now live.
His testimony is part of the greatest political scandal in America since Watergate: Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election. (In fact, according to a former US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, the Russian scandal today is even bigger than Watergate.)
The issues at stake in this reality TV series of presidential politics can be easily ridiculed—will Trump tweet?—but they are profound. Comey’s Congressional testimony goes to the heart of the proper functioning of US democracy, being concerned with checks and balances on the executive branch, and, crucially, whether President Trump obstructed justice by exerting pressure on America’s senior law enforcement officer.
Before his Congressional appearance yesterday, Comey released a prepared written statement. With its crisp, clear, language, it reads more like a screenplay than the dry legalese expected of an FBI director.
The opening shot, before the credits, is the FBI head being called for a one-on-one dinner with the president, held at a small table in the centre of Green Room at White House, waited on by two Navy stewards. The FBI man and the president stare at each other in stony silence.
Then, in another scene, we have the president asking for the Oval Office to be cleared of people, including the Vice President and Attorney General, so he could have a quiet conversation with the FBI Director. “As the door by grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn.'” Cue opening credits.
We learned from Comey’s testimony that after his first one-on-one meeting with Trump, he felt so uneasy (a “gut feeling”) that, unlike his meetings with previous presidents, he decided to make a written record immediately after. He did so on each of the nine meetings and calls he had with Trump. When pushed yesterday on why he did so, Comey said that he took this unusual step…