By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) –  After two hours and forty-five minutes of questioning of former FBI Director James Comey by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, what have we learned?

Substantively, not much that we didn’t already know.

Comey was especially blunt in his condemnation of President Trump’s harsh criticisms of him and the FBI.

comey1 Keller @ Large: James Comeys Testimony   What Did We Learn?

Former FBI Director James Comey before a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. (Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

“Those were lies, plain and simple,” he said,” and I’m sorry the American people were told them,” a comment that forced the White House, in a classic echo of the Nixon era, to issue a statement that the president is “not a liar.”

More: Complete Coverage On CBS News

And while he refused to characterize Trump’s request that he “let… go” the probe of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – a key figure in the whole Russian election meddling investigation – as “obstruction of justice,” he did say “I took it as a direction.”

Otherwise, Comey deflected many questions that speak to the meat of the various ongoing probes.

He provided some valuable context on the topic of “meddling” with FBI work by recounting how Obama-era Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to refer to the Clinton e-mail investigation as a “matter,” not an investigation, as if that would in any way mitigate the political damage she was suffering.

But Comey did state flatly that “I was fired to change the way the Russian investigation was conducted,” a claim that will keep the obstruction speculation percolating.

comey3 Keller @ Large: James Comeys Testimony   What Did We Learn?

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

And for my money, perhaps the most interesting thing about today’s session was the demeanor of the Republican senators on the panel.

With the exception of a confused-sounding John McCain, who accused Comey of practicing a double-standard by closing the Clinton e-mail probe while continuing the Trump investigation while he was heading the FBI, no GOP senator came close to questioning Comey’s credibility, something the White House has been urging its surrogates to do.

As congressional hearings go, this was an outlier.

Normally, they are a forum for migraine-inducing posturing and partisanship by members.

But today there was little of that. The questioning was sober, monologues were kept to a minimum, and there was clear bipartisan agreement that the Russian hacking is not a “hoax” or “fake news” as the president has described it.

Keep in mind, the president’s future – if not in terms of impeachment, then certainly in terms of political stature and public trust – depends on the GOP majorities in Congress standing by him, not just on the Russia matter, but on policy matters.

Today’s hearing indicated that these senators, at least, are not going to go over the cliff with Trump if that’s where they conclude he’s heading.

Comments (4)
  1. You seem to be missing, Jon, either consciously or unconsciously, that ex-Director Comey find himself at the center because a serious and very damaging mistake that he made…

    He spoke when he should have remained silent and remained silent when he should have spoken.

    He has deliberately weaponized the FBI against the very person to whom he was responsible by the Constitution of the United States.

    Comey is not a hero. He has been an is setting himself a the judge and jury in a sordid effort to reverse the stunning defeat of a person who managed to lose an election that was hers to lose.

    Not a single fact was presented by ex-director Comey that would be admissible in a court of law and that would not be impeached by cross examination.

    Comey is a prime example of the Deep State element that needs to be removed, politely or impolitely, from positions of power.

    1. David Keith says:

      “Not a single fact was presented by ex-director Comey that would be admissible in a court of law and that would not be impeached by cross examination.”

      On the contrary every fact concerning conversations that Von Clownstick had with Comey would almost certainly be admissible in a court (if Comey were the witness). And I’m sure that the defense would attempt to impeach his testimony. Whether it would be impeached successfully would be up to the fact finder (judge or jury).

      You have, on numerous occasions, proved that you have no legal knowledge. Please stop suggesting that you do!

      As and aside, don’t you (assuming that you are at least a moderately sentient creature) admit that, of the two, Comey is certainly more believable than Von Clownstick?

  2. Paul Smith says:

    Jon, McCain is not confused he is senile

    1. David Keith says:

      I wonder. I almost think that McCain might have had (or been having) some sort of transient stroke. I’m not a doctor, but it seems that many symptoms were there: confusion, incoherence, banging on the desk, anger or frustration towards the person he was addressing, repeating the same incoherent statements over and over. I sincerely hope that someone took him to a hospital for a CT scan.

      Or he has recently , as you suggest, crossed the line into senility. I saw him on “Meet the Press” (or similar Sunday morning news show) within the last few weeks and he seemed “with it”. Today, I saw a very different McCain.

      I wonder if we will hear more about McCain in the next few days.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s