Reaction to Ex-FBI Chief’s Testimony: It Was a Devasting Picture of a Presidency
No Trump tweets. Trump was silent on Twitter Thursday as James Comey, the man he fired as FBI director, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee for almost three hours. Trump’s personal attorney Marc E. Kasowitz and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis babysat Trump to ensure he didn’t let loose online. But he was back online Friday morning: “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!”
- LIAR, summed up the New York Daily News.
- Lawfare blog editor Benjamin Wittes called Comey’s written testimony, “the most shocking single document compiled about the official conduct of the public duties of any President since the release of the Watergate tapes.”
- Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for Manhattan fired by Trump, attended the hearing: “We all can agree with Jim Comey that ‘Lordy, we hope there are tapes,’” Bharara tweeted.
- Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin said Trump “comes across like a sleazy guy trying to lean on Jimmy Stewart–the director of the FBI.”
- Republicans downplayed the impact. House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote off the entire series of exchanges between Trump and Comey as a rookie’s mistakes. “The president’s new at this. He’s new to government,” Ryan said. “So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between [the Department of Justice], FBI and White House. He’s just new to this.”
- “Comey’s testimony won’t move the GOP toward action,” the Nation wrote.
- Fox News reporter Gregg Jarrett said Comey’s testimony “exonerates” Trump of obstruction of justice, but conservative journalist Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard, said Republican senators he’s talked to are “pretty terrified.”
- “No matter what they say, White House staffers that watched Comey today are lawyering up and looking for the exits,” said former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer. “This is about to get ugly for them.”
Lawfare’s Wittes, a friend of Comey, wrote it will get ugly for Comey, too. “We are about to see a full-court press against Comey,” he wrote. “I don’t know what it will look like. But the attack instinct always kicks in when a presidency is under siege.” Trump agreed. Speaking to a group of conservative evangelicals just as Comey was wrapping up his testimony, Trump said: “We know how to fight better than anybody, and we never, ever give up—we are winners—and we are going to fight.”
Conservative rout. In Great Britain, the snap election Prime Minister Theresa May called to increase her power backfired. With all but one of the 650 seats in the House of Commons accounted for, the BBC reported that May’s Conservatives would remain the largest party. But they were projected to win only 318 seats, down from the 331 they won in 2015, and eight seats short of a majority. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for May to resign. The outcome could derail Brexit talks, the negotiations for how the UK will leave the European Union. May was also criticized after the terror attacks in Manchester and London because the number of police was cut by 20,000 while May was Home Secretary.
Business as usual. While much of the nation’s attention was focused on the Comey hearing, the House approved legislation on Thursday to erase a number of core financial regulations put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, as Republicans moved a step closer to delivering on their promises to eliminate rules that they claim have strangled small businesses and stagnated the economy. The vote is a significant step for a measure that still faces long odds of becoming law because of the slim majority that Republicans hold in the Senate.
Mine in the mountains. The U.S. Forest Service has approved plans for an open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona that would be the third-largest copper mine in the country. The mine still needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and approvals of a detailed mining plan and a reclamation plan before construction can begin. David Bernhardt, the former lobbyist whose nomination to be No. 2 at the Interior Department went to the full Senate this week, has lobbied for the project. The mine is expected to produce 1.25 billion tons of waste rock and mine tailings that would be dumped in canyons. Pima County, where the mine would be located, has challenged the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s certification that the mine will meet state water quality standards.