Comey and Sessions Hearings Show Washington at Its Best and Worst
How the Trump administration rewards loyalty and persecutes honesty
By Kyle Neary
The Progressive Teen Staff Writer
JAMES COMEY IS NOT A FAVORITE of those who identify with the Democratic party. No one who was instrumental in the creation of a Trump presidency is. But the former FBI Director has demonstrated one thing that other Trump administration officials consistently have not: honesty. Politically speaking, Comey had everything to gain from giving Trump the loyalty that he allegedly pushed for. But there is a reason for which Comey was appointed director under President Obama in 2013 despite the former director being a Republican. Obama appointed Comey, not to play party politics, but to carry out the job of his office — “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.”
But now, times are different. Americans do not live under a president who cares about duty or respects public office. Accordingly, Trump’s appointees are overwhelmingly not the most meritorious; they are the most loyal. They do not benefit the people of the United States; they benefit Donald Trump. Jeff Sessions is the paradigm of such appointees. After all, Sessions’ career, namely his abysmal record on civil rights, hardly qualifies him to be the Attorney General of the United States. It is difficult to argue that honesty, rather than loyalty, got him his position when it took the revelation that he lied about his Russian ties to make him recuse himself from the investigation into Trump.
Hitherto, Sessions and Comey compose the most high-profile figures to give the Senate investigation testimony, but their hearings offer insight into two drastically different approaches to politics and, most importantly, which one the present White House favors. Per usual with the Trump administration, transparency is so lacking that any number of vital details in the investigation are unknown.
For example, Sessions failed to specify on his June 13 hearing whether there was a third meeting between himself and Russian officials (on top of the two other meetings about which he has already been caught to have lied). Though initially he firmly denied such a meeting, Sessions’ answer was dubious after questioning from Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Sessions’ failure to deliver a simple yes or no answer continued when Harris asked him if he could provide the exact law that allowed himself to withhold information by virtue of Trump’s executive privilege. Sessions, who clearly could not produce the exact writ, instead stalled so that Harris’ time to question him might expire. It is concerning that the highest ranking lawyer in our nation insisted on killing time by ruminating on his “principle” rather than deferring to law. But Sessions does, after all, have all the incentive to see to it that nothing comes of these investigations; Donald Trump is his boss.
Comey’s testimony, on the other hand, hardly bore a resemblance to Sessions’. Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, and his recollection of events is deeply troubling. First, Comey testified that Trump asked him to drop the probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (who has been fired for his clearly wrongful collusion with Russia). Comey also said he “doesn’t buy” Trump’s explanation for firing Comey, calling Trump’s claims that Comey had led the FBI into disarray and distrust “lies, plain and simple.” Others subscribe to a more believable narrative — that Trump fired Comey to impede FBI investigation of Russia in the 2016 election. Comey insinuated that the reason for his dismissal is as much in his testimony. Sessions, for his part, advised Trump to fire Comey despite his recusal from the Russia investigation.
Talk of obstruction of justice — an impeachable offense — has hereby arisen. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) explains, “The fact that the president can fire someone for good cause and can fire someone for no cause doesn’t mean he can fire someone for malicious cause.” That said, the question is now one of evidence. Where matters of law are concerned, Trump and his administration have continually walked a blurred line wherein wrongdoing is clear but not sufficiently evidenced to constitute charges.
Through all of this, Trump has insisted on his innocence though innumerable indicators point elsewhere. Take, for example, his plans to complain to the Department of Justice for Comey’s “leaking” his own memoranda after concerning conversations with Trump. Keep in mind that these are the very conversations that Sessions disputed under oath. And thus the Senate’s investigation hinges on whose testimony is truthful — the ill-appointed Attorney General caught lying already, or the fired FBI Director who was looking into Trump’s team. While Senate Intelligence Committee, split between Republicans and Democrats, will not make a determination of such based off present evidence, Americans can expect plenty more of similar proceedings to come.