President Trump claims that former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee provided him with “total and complete vindication.” To suggest that Comey’s damning testimony and blunt accusations of clear deception and lying, provided Trump with cover is stretching the truth significantly. Here are three reasons Trump is NOT vindicated.
- Comey called Trump a Liar – At several points throughout his testimony, Comey very clearly called the President’s honesty into question. First, during his opening statement he refuted the reasons given by the administration for his dismissal as “…lies, plain and simple.” He later explained his rationale for writing thorough contemporaneous notes – a practice he had not engaged in during conversations with Trump’s predecessors – because he “was honestly concerned that he (Trump) might lie” about the nature of their conversations.
- Obstruction of Justice – Comey confirmed that as of May 9 (when Comey was fired) Trump was not himself under investigation for collusion with Russian officials in the 2016 election. He hinted fairly broadly, however, that President Trump is likely the subject of an investigation into obstruction of justice charges. To be clear, as of May 9 Trump was not himself being investigated for collusion with Russian officials (though that could have changed over the last month), but difficult questions remain about potential obstruction of justice for which he has not been vindicated.
- Self-serving Vindication – Trump has mostly been concerned about himself and whether he was directly under investigation for the Russia collusion investigation spear-headed by the FBI. It’s almost as though Trump doesn’t really care about Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, or Michael Flynn as long as he himself is not under investigation. The investigation into members of his campaign colluding with Russian intelligence officials to throw the 2016 election is by all accounts still very much in play and with a more determined and focused lead investigator in Robert Mueller. The fact that Trump views Comey’s testimony through the lens of the person Donald Trump rather than the Trump campaign or the Trump presidency is an indictment of selfishness.
The Donald Trump pattern, when facing scandal, is to simply dismiss or ignore facts, statements, or sworn testimony of others that hurts his image or runs contrary to the narrative he is trying to push.