An Important Point About Director Comey’s Testimony Today

Over the weekend, Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare, provided a primer on how to interpret FBI Director Comey’s testimony today. This is based on Wittes’s past observation of Director Comey’s behavior in similar matters.

But free as I am from the shackles of any actual knowledge, let me offer readers the following user’s guide to Comey’s testimony, which can be summed up in one simple sentence: Comey’s communicativeness with the committee—and through it with the public—will almost certainly be inversely proportional to the seriousness of the Russia investigation.

That is, if Comey says a lot, makes a lot of news on Russia matters, and cheers a lot of anti-Trump hearts by maximally embarassing the President for his outrageous comments on Obama’s alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower, that will very likely be a sign that Comey has relatively little to protect in terms of investigative equities in the Russia matter and is thus free to vent. Conversely, a quiet, reserved Comey—one whose contrast with the relatively loquatious FBI director who talked at length about the Clinton email matters will infuriate a lot of liberals and frustrate those who want to know what’s going on with Russia—may well spell trouble for the President.

A sure sign that the Russia Connection is not that big a deal is if Comey talks about it.

In the third scenario, Russia is a very big deal. Comey, in other words, has significant investigative equities to protect and he believes that he needs to be there in order to protect them—in other words, that he has a responsibility to not get himself fired because of his anger about the Trump tweets (or anything else) because he has to make sure the investigation can proceed unimpeded. In this situation, I would expect him to be minimally verbal. He may have to answer yes or no questions in certain instances, including about the truth of the wiretapping allegations, but he will refuse to answer a lot of questions. He will make as little news as humanly possible. He will be exceptionally spare with his opinions. He will make a point of not antagonizing the President. Lots of people will leave disappointed.

If I were advising Trump, this is the scenario that would scare me most. We know, both from the hospital room testimony and from the Clinton email testimony, how Comey behaves when he feels at liberty to speak. We also know he’s angry right now and would presumably love a chance to defend the integrity of his agency and his agents. If he passes up that opportunity, I will read that as a sign that he is biting his lip very hard because there’s something more important at stake.

I highly recommend you click across for Wittes’s full analysis. It provides some very useful and important context to today’s testimony.

Open Thread: Professional ‘Christians’, Whited Sepulcher Edition

Let it not be forgotten — Erick ‘Voice of the GOP Gated Community’ Erickson is studying for a theology degree. He knows his interpretation is the very opposite of what his professed Messiah preached, but he knows even better that the GOP leaders he’s sucking up to worship Ayn Rand a lot more fervently than that antique domestic terrorist Yeshuah ben Joseph. Nick Kristoff, in the NYTimes:

Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of themselves, knowing that you’ll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!”

They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, have pity on us.”

“NO!” shouted Pious Paul. “Jesus! You don’t have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don’t worry about them — they’ve already got health care access.”

Jesus turned to Pious Paul, puzzled.

“Why, they can pray for a cure,” Pious Paul explained. “I call that universal health care access.”…

Read more

Town Hall Report

I used to have a nice, sane Democrat representing me in Congress, but earlier this year, district lines were redrawn, and we ended up with wingnut knob Vern Buchanan.

He had a town hall today. I was there. So were thousands of others. Buchanan had to switch to a larger venue due to the avalanche of RSVPs.

Here’s the line to get in:

Here’s a truly deranged asshole who was waving a Trump flag and screaming at the crowd about John Podesta being a “Satanic pedophile.”

Trumpcare would eliminate coverage for services that man desperately needs, which is one reason I oppose it! Read more

The Taoiseach Lays the Smack Down: Enda Kenney’s 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Address

At yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring the Irish PM, Enda Kenny, the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Taoiseach made his feelings known about the President’s, and by extension, the Republican Party’s current policy preferences on immigration. Kenny’s White House remarks received praise almost everywhere, including in Ireland, where there had been significant concern on whether he should cancel out of this year’s event.

The Taoiseach’s speech on immigration has received global recognition for ‘lecturing’ US President Trump on immigration.

The Taoiseach used the St Patrick’s day visit to speak about the contribution of the Irish community in the United States, leading to the New York Times calling it a “lecture” for the US President on immigration.

Speaking at a party in East Room of the White House, he thanked Mr Trump for “giving so much of his time” to help celebrate St Patrick’s legacy as “the patron of immigrants”.

He appealed to the President to take a more favourable view of immigrants – but made no mention of Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries.

At the 6:30 mark of the video below you can watch and listen to the Taoiseach’s full remarks following the President’s remarks.

The much excerpted point of Kenney’s remarks are these one minute and fifty-two seconds:

Dutch Election Results: The Line Continues To Hold!

Prime Minister Rutte and his center-right VVD Party (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) held off the challenge of Gert Wilders and his PVV (Party for Freedom) in today’s Dutch elections.

  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party has won the most seats in parliamentary elections, exit polls say.

    Early results confirmed the exit polls, with his centre-right VVD Party on course for 31 out of 150 seats.

    Three parties are projected to win 19 seats each: Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV), the Christian Democrats and D66.

    Mr Wilders’ party had been leading in opinion polls but support for the party appeared to slip in recent days.

    With 10.9% of votes counted early on Thursday, the VVD had polled 17.8%.

    Voter participation in the general election was high; the 81% turnout was the highest for 30 years.

    Analysts say a high turnout may have benefited pro-EU and liberal parties.

    “Today was a celebration of democracy,” Mr Rutte said, adding that the Netherlands had said no to the “wrong kind of populism”.

    Although the VVD had lost several seats since the last election, many had expected the party to lose much more ground to the Freedom Party.

As was the case in the recent Austrian reelection, Holland has electorally held the line against the neo-Nationalist populist wave that is threatening many of the EU member states. France is next up in April and May (first and second round elections) followed by Germany in September. The Russians working through their local proxies – the neo-Nationalist parties and movements themselves, as well as through Wikileaks and directly using their entire hybrid war toolkit is seeking to weaken, if not dismantle the EU and NATO. The electoral results so far, in Austria and today in Holland, are promising and show signs that the civil societies in these states is stronger and more robust than many think. And that the vote in favor of Brexit and the election of President Trump may be having a sobering effect on the internal and external drives for neo-Nationalism throughout Europe.

Set Your DVRs: News Is Supposedly Going To Be Broken

May want to pop some popcorn too!

And we leave the last word to the drunk at the end of the bar er, um, noted, local crazy person er, um, official mouthpiece for state propaganda outlet er, um pundit and talk show host:

Open thread!

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Snow (Job) Day?

Not sure how much of DC will be shut down, so this next may or may not be postponed:

Here in the Boston exurbs, the weatherpersons are predicting somewhere between a foot and two feet of snow; I’m selfishly hoping the snow/sleet line doesn’t get this far north, because I’d rather move two feet of dry fluffy stuff than ten inches of frozen sludge…

Apart from March Snowmaggedon Madness (and you Left Coasters rolling your eyes), what’s on the agenda for the day?


And finally, happy news for us Washington Post subscribers — the Mad Bitcher is taking his talents elsewhere: