THE COMEY EFFECT: SO WHO DO YOU TRUST AMERICA?
DENIALS AND OBFUSCATIONS ARE COMING THICK AND FAST!
Caught about 30 minutes of Rush Limbaugh this afternoon following James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Poor Rush. I don’t think I’ve every heard him quite so near to an on-air explosion like a puffer fish with no breath control. Raving on and on in rogue elephant fashion, screaming into the microphone, foaming at the mouth, I could almost see the spittle flying out into his studio’s atmosphere landing in waves of slime over the console in front of him.
Rush’s theme? “There’s been no Russian hacking,” he screamed. “There’s no collusion,” he bellowed, “There’s not a shred, a scintilla, an iota of evidence,” he stormed out to his radio audience. “There’s no OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE” he foamed like a dog infected with rabies. And, naturally, as rain falling from the sky, he lit into all the Deep State actors hidden in the deep recesses of all those bland government buildings working day and night to achieve their Holy Grail purpose of getting Trump out of office. As a throw-away, like the sun rising in the East, we liberals/progressives, socialists and commies are behind it all. It was, I think, Rush’s finest performance, at least of the short intervals that I’ve heard from him, and absolutely worthy of an Emmy. Or maybe for a radio performances, it’s a Peabody.
I have to say that I found it absolutely fascinating. It sounded like a desperate attempt to defend the indefensible, a Hail Mary pass that was a last, desperate effort to win the battle. Not a single acknowledgement that the intelligence community actually has concluded that Russia did influence the election (”Who can believe them?” Rush cried out “when they’ve been lying to us for years”) or that there are so many meetings, conversations, phone calls and money links, so many odd “lapses in memory” and " innocent omissions" in filling out Federal forms among so many of Trump’s Team associates with all things Russian as to make it seem as if Russia has Trump and his minions in their pocket. This too, according to Rush, is all Deep State, lying, liberal media, effete establishment pundits all working to undermine Trump.
Rush loves parsing words and terms so that he can convey to his listeners – now Trump supporters but only a year or so ago the Obama haters – a sense of obfuscation and confusion, the fog of war. He posits that there are mysteries and conspiracies at work that they do not know about. That there are hidden, unknown and essentially unknowable secrets working against them and their hero Trump. He sows distrust and mistrust in order to cement in the minds of his folks that they can’t believe anything they see, hear or read from any other source but him. Same thing with Alex Jones and the rest of the alt.right blowhards.
But this obfuscatory chatter isn’t limited to Rush and Alex. It seems that every Trump supporter has become an expert at parsing terms to deny and obscure. One problem has emerged. Trump supporters also generally trust Comey. He is, after all, a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of our primary Law and Order institutions that Trump folks are in favor of. At least until Trump fired him. They have faith in our authoritarian institution that work to keep liberal anarchy at bay. But this sets up a painful dichotomy for them. Who do they trust more? Trump or Comey?
Let’s put the whole confusing chatter re: “obstruction of justice” thing to bed. As a Constitutional matter, it has been determined that a sitting President cannot be “indicted” for a crime. This is pretty clear. But that does not mean that a sitting President cannot “commit” a crime. Should Donald Trump take action to prove his claim that he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it” and actually take a pistol in hand and fire it at some Brooks Brothers’ suited attorney or a skinny young Vogue magazine model strolling down the sidewalk and injures or kills such stroller, Donald Trump has committed a crime. (Several actually, but let’s not complicate things.) There is no doubt about it and no argument against the proposition that he did, indeed, commit a crime. He committed murder. That is not the confusing chatter issue, although it might be that Trump himself thinks so, given his somewhat vague mastery of legal niceties (its complicated!) But, even though he murders an attorney or model, as a sitting President, he simply cannot be charged, indicted or prosecuted for this act. An act of murder.
But, after he leaves the Office of the President and launches a new reality show, possibly entitled “Who’s The Biggest Con Artist In the World,” he could indeed, then be charged, indicted and tried for his action. The strictures against charging a sitting President only applies while he is President even though he actually, in reality, in our world of facts, he did indeed commit a crime as President.
All cleared up now? That’s why all the back and forth between supporters and haters, television attorney pundits and regular media pundits in attempting to either promote the theme that what Trump asked of and did to James Comey is or is not “obstruction of justice” and/or “abuse of power.” It clearly is both. At least to us. I've seen Alan Dershowitz and Jeffery Toobin on CNN go after each other - one taking the position that Trump did commit obstruction (Toobin) as we lay folks perceive it and Dershowitz taking the opposite legal stance that because he is the President and his words and actions might not hold up in court, he did not commit the crime of obstruction of justice. They are both parsing opposite views: one based on what you and me would conclude and one based on what the legal system would conclude. Bottom line, Trump can’t be punished for this “overreach” by the legal system being the sitting President as he is. But this doesn't negate our conclusion that he fired Comey since he did not squash the Russian investigation which is, of course, not the legal parsing of "obstruction of justice" but very much what you and me would see as such. Trump can be punished only through the House of Representatives through impeachment proceedings. But make no mistake about it: Trump did obstruct justice and did engage in abuse of power. He cannot, however, be charged with such crimes by the FBI, Federal Attorneys, the Justice Department or any other of the arms of our legal system. Now, at least.
When Trump declared that: “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest,” he was correct in the sense that as President he could not be charged in court with conflict of interest infractions in the same way that he cannot be charged with killing someone on Fifth Avenue. While I’m not sure (how can anyone be sure of anything when it comes to Trump?) how he actually interprets his inviolability, he’s wrong about actually, in reality, having conflicts of interest, he most certainly can and most certainly does, it’s just that he can’t be punished for it while he’s President. Only Congress can punish him. He could, however, be charged after leaving office.
It’s the same parsing with the “there’s no evidence” theme. This parsing is the easiest to counter. First of all, we the public have not seen “evidence” as evidence would be defined in a court of law. Here’s one definition:
n. every type of proof legally presented at trial (allowed by the judge) which is intended to convince the judge and/or jury of alleged facts material to the case. It can include oral testimony of witnesses, including experts on technical matters, documents, public records, objects, photographs and depositions (testimony under oath taken before trial).
So what Rush Limbaugh and all the Trump apologists are yapping about is the legal definition of “evidence” as defined by the legal system. And they are right. Even the leaked NSA report isn’t “evidence” in the legal sense of the word. But non-attorneys and non-cops and non-judges like us, consider evidence as something that corroborates what had been previously considered non-factual, or rumor, or innuendo until such time as the corroborating tweet, recording, document, is made known. That’s why we see the document that Reality Winner leaked as “evidence” of the depth of Russian influence and meddling in our Presidential election. And it certainly is. It is the first concrete item that speaks in detail about how Russia attempted to hack – or did hack – voting software. But, it still isn’t legal “evidence” since such a document would have to be vetted to confirm its authenticity, its relevance, and meets the standards developed by the judicial system for what constitutes “evidence” in a court of law. We, ordinary people that we are, are less concerned about the technical definition of "evidence" than what facts, documents, statements, etc. support a previously unsupported allegation.
So when you hear Trump’s family members, Trump’s Administration members, Trump apologist pundits on television, Republican Senators and Representatives yapping about how “there’s no evidence,” that all this Russian collusion stuff is just pure fantasy conjecture, you can be pretty sure that they are only trying to deny what is being shoved in our faces every single day but, they say, we are not to trust what is right before our eyes. So far, given Trump’s latest poll numbers it’s isn’t working out all that well. Let’s make sure that we all stay strong and on point until Trump is dragged kicking and screaming through the White House front door.
Have A Great Day. James Comey has done us all a favor.
PS: In the continuing incompetence demonstrated daily by the Trump Administration (like inserting the U.S. again into the latest Sunni-Shiite (Saudi Arabia – Qatar) rift that is 1300 years old) the spectacular display of either incompetence or just abject stupidity demonstrated by National Security Agency Director, Mike Rogers, and Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee just one day before Comey’s testimony, has to rank right up there with Trump’s sliming of the NSA, CIA and FBI on numerous occasions both before and after he was elected President.
By refusing to answer questions asked by committee members who repeatedly asked them if they had been instructed not to answer (“No,”), or if Executive Privilege had been invoked (“No.”) or if there was some other intelligence reason why they could not answer (“No.”), and by refusing to answer the Senator's questions when they admitted they there was no legitimate reason for not answering, they both kinda said “Well, we just don’t want to.” Apparently they invoked the little known “I Just Don’t Wanna’ Answer” Amendment to the U.S. Constitution of the United States of America.
It does not get any weirder than this folks! But, then, we’re all living in Trumpland these days, aren’t we!