There was plenty of desperation in James Comey’s interview with George Stephanopoulos, which aired Sunday night on ABC. Mostly, he was desperate to prove to America that every decision he made during the 2016 campaign was smart and prudent and that his firing was the result of a twisted brute in the Oval Office.
How well Comey succeeded in this remains to be seen. However, the evidence he provided for relatively serious allegations seemed somewhat scanty, to this viewer at least. In particular, Comey seems to potentially believe the most bizarre allegations in the Trump dossier are “possible” — or at least wants you to believe that he believes that.
I think you can probably guess what I’m talking about here, but let me be gruesomely specific for those whose minds aren’t being jogged or who haven’t looked deeply at Christopher Steele’s hodgepodge of hearsay. Part of the dossier involved Donald Trump, a visit to Moscow back in 2013, some Russian prostitutes and, um, a certain product of the human waste process being used in an untoward manner.
Video footage was supposedly taken of this encounter by the Russians so they would have compromising material with which to blackmail Trump. The tinfoil hat contingent on the left side of the political aisle wants to believe that this gave Trump a motive to collaborate with Vladimir Putin’s regime.
There’s been no evidence proffered by American intelligence or anyone to date that suggests Donald Trump had a compromising excretorial liaison with Russian members of the world’s oldest profession or that his campaign worked in conjunction with Russia, never mind that the two events were connected.
At least in Comey’s mind, however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t “possible.”
“I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013,” Comey told Stephanopoulos about eliminating the possibility that compromising material on Trump exists. “It’s possible, but I don’t know.”
“It is stunning and I wish I wasn’t saying it, but it’s just — it’s the truth. I cannot say that.”
Comey noted that when he was fired, the information was “unverified,” which is a bit like saying that reports of Elvis being alive and well and managing a Whataburger in Milwaukee with Tupac Shakur as his night manager are “unverified.” At least the facts regarding that last one have been published in the World Weekly News (I think; I might have gotten the particulars a bit wrong) whereas the particulars of this tape, beyond the fact that some Russian intelligence source told Christopher Steele that it existed, remain wholly unrevealed to the wider world.
So, what is Comey’s evidence that this tape might actually exist? Well, um, his only proof is that Trump asked him to investigate where the information came from. Comey writes “that it bothered him if there was ‘even a 1 percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true.”
“In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?” Comey writes.
There’s your evidence, ladies and gentlemen of the jury! You’re looking, more or less, at the bulk of James Comey’s revealed corroboration that America’s grossest home video actually exists: Trump was afraid his wife might believe the rumors might be true.
I’m quite unaware of when the former FBI head managed to get a license in marriage therapy, and I’m thus far unwilling to buy “A Higher Loyalty” to find out when it was. Congratulations, Mr. Comey, your wife wouldn’t even believe there was a 1 percent chance you slept with Russian prostitutes if such an accusation appeared in an opposition research report. One assumes not all political spouses are like that, regardless of how morally upright their significant other may be.
Now, I’m assuming that Comey likely knows more about the verification of the Trump dossier than I do. However, one also assumes that if he has classified evidence that confirms the existence of the tape to a greater extent than he’s letting on, he also likely wouldn’t be in a position to reveal that he thought it was “possible” the tape exists.
This, in short, is almost certainly a value judgement on Comey’s part as opposed to an evidentiary one. It’s one that’s meant to sell books, but it’s also one meant to cast doubt upon President Trump and portray him as a man consumed by moral turpitude. To sell books.
James Comey is exactly the man he was when he got fired from the FBI — someone who wants to be at the center of everything and is preternaturally concerned with whether America believes his version of events. That doesn’t make him a dispassionate hero, it makes him a person desperate to be loved and trusted by America, no matter what the facts may be.
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