We’ve now seen the prepared text of former FBI Director James Comey’s opening statement in today’s public hearings. So whether he reads all seven pages out loud, or he offers a condensed version of what’s been posted, we know where he’s headed with it. What we don’t know is which of the predictable questions from the committee he’ll answer, and how he’ll answer them. But based on what we know of Comey, we can take a good gander.
It’s important to understand that, wherever mindset James Comey might be in right now, he’s seasoned enough at these things to understand that he won’t take Trump down by ranting and raving. That would only paint him as a disgruntled former employee with an axe to grind. Instead, Comey has to come off as the consummate professional who is only interested in laying out the facts. He’ll speak his words carefully. He’ll speak in a measured tone. He’ll act like he’s not even mad that Trump fired him.
Moreover, Comey won’t say anything that could harm Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s current or future ability to prosecute this scandal. So even after Comey goes into great detail laying out the extent to which Trump committed obstruction of justice, don’t be shocked if Comey takes a pass when Democratic Senators inevitably try to put the words “obstruction of justice” in his mouth. He knows he doesn’t have to say it. He’s laid out the facts; it’s enough that the Senators will say it for him, as he declines to disagree.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there is literally nothing James Comey can say or do today that would cause Donald Trump to be magically ousted from office, or to cause impeachment hearings to automatically begin. Trump’s fate is still depending on his slowly sinking approval rating, as I’ve explained link), and all of the rest of this is only relevant in terms of how it impacts that approval rating.
So don’t look for Comey to go nuclear today and deliver a pivotal shocking moment that magically changes everything, as if this were an episode of Law & order. Nothing works that way in politics. Look for Comey to instead methodically deliver a thousand cuts to Donald Trump, causing a larger chunk of Americans than ever to see Trump as corrupt criminal or inviable leader. Comey is savvy enough to know that one cut at a time is the only way Trump can be taken down.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report