Comey’s Statement Convicted Trump’s Character
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Politics and Activism

Comey’s Statement Convicted Trump’s Character

No clear “impeachable offenses” does not equate to “complete vindication.”

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Comey’s Statement Convicted Trump’s Character
Doug Mills

On June 8th, former FBI director James Comey testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding his interactions with President Trump as they relate to the investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the election. Comey’s opening statement went viral as it was published by most news sites, shared on Facebook, and generally appeared all over the internet. Personally, I read it via a link that a few of my Facebook friends shared.

Also, I was appalled by its contents and their implications. I know that plenty of reactionary articles already exist concerning Comey’s testimony, but my reactionary articulation is not to the testimony itself but instead to Trump’s reaction to the testimony. Necessarily, I’ll be talking about details from the testimony, but I do so in order to oppose Trump’s interpretation of it.

The interpretation was a key component of Comey’s testimony as he mentions the way he perceived certain phrases Trump used versus the interpretations Trump may have intended, for example, “honest loyalty.” And now, interpretation of the interpretations Comey introduced is a key component of the way the Senate proceeds. As the nation reeled from Comey’s statement and pondered exactly how the Senate would proceed, Trump took to Twitter and gave the nation yet another interpretation: “total and complete vindication.”

Well.

It’s true that the Senate has a lot of investigating to do if they are to verify and build upon Comey’s statement to discover an impeachable offense to rail against Trump, but just because Trump doesn’t feel as though his power was shaken by Comey’s testimony is a far cry from "total and complete vindication." In fact, I think the testimony revealed major character flaws in Trump, and while not necessarily constituting impeachable offenses, I think these flaws deserve equal scrutiny.

However, Trump has already taken action to see that they are not by labeling the testimony as vindication. As President, his words have the power to become people’s opinions and it’s clear that he would rather shape people’s opinions than allowing them to form their own. This level of manipulation, but with the aim of influencing a person’s actions, is evident in the way he interacted with Comey, repeatedly posturing from a position of power and then making thinly veiled requests.

Trump has since said that saying he hoped that certain things would or would not happen is not the same as making a request, but he appears to be playing with words, and with this man, his actions speak much louder. First of all, Trump expresses hopes about a public statement being made to say he isn’t being investigated and later calls to check on that request, which conflates his hopes with his requests. This supports the idea that he is merely manipulating his words in hindsight.

However, I think a different part of the testimony is more clear at revealing that his words are empty while his actions speak volumes. In inviting Comey to dinner, Trump specifically mentioned an intent to invite the entire family, while the dinner set up of the two alone in the Green Room made it clear that his intent to invite the family was not genuine in the slightest.

While Trump’s actions are revealing, what he says is far from inconsequential. Much of what he said to Comey were requests, and many of those requests were entirely selfish in nature, especially his need to get the fact out that he was not personally under investigation. Despite his knowing and Congress knowing the truth that he was not under investigation, Trump’s narcissism made him uncomfortable with the idea that other people might incorrectly and inconsequentially believe otherwise. Despite the FBI’s general protocol about not making a public statement to that effect, Trump was so preoccupied with his self-image that he even called Comey back to check on that matter.

This preoccupation comes across as insecurity as Trump feels the need to go out of his way to prevent people from thinking poorly of him. He must assume that people will automatically think poorly of him or he wouldn’t be on constant damage control. He seems to make that assumption when he says he needs and expects loyalty from Comey. What I heard in that isntance was that he doesn’t think he has it, and that he would rather ask for it than earn it.

It is clear in the way he repeatedly pushes Comey to breach the impartiality of the FBI and do as he wishes that he doesn’t respect expertise. As director of the FBI, Comey understood the relationship between the FBI and the Executive as well as the proper way to handle a sensitive investigation such as the Russia one, but Trump is unable or unwilling to accept that Comey is acting not only in a professional manner but also in his best interest.

Unfortunately, Trump’s best interest is a little different than the best interest that Comey is serving. While Comey serves his best interest by working by the book, Trump’s best interest is just whatever he wants as an outcome, and this is apparent in his disregard for rule of law. In asking Comey to cut Michael Flynn slack, his reasoning was that “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” Yet, it doesn’t matter how good of a person Trump thinks someone is if they broke the law and/or acted unethically.

Finally, in terms of serving the country’s best interest, it’s appalling that Trump can completely ignore that this entire controversy, at its root, is about Russian interference in the election, which is a very serious threat to our democracy. Trump sees the Russia as a cloud to be lifted, or in other words, as a personal inconvenience, which reveals that his priorities are completely out of whack.

Comey’s statement and the consequent investigating may not be enough to bring impeachment charges upon Trump, but his statement in conjunction with Trump’s reaction provided the public with a window into the way Trump operates inside the White House, and he is far from vindicated or even justified in the way he handles his job.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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