What others say: Moving forward after Comey testimony

  • By London Telegraph editorial
  • Monday, June 19, 2017 3:26pm
  • Opinion

Critics of Donald Trump hoped that yesterday’s congressional testimony of James Comey, former director of the FBI, would open a path to the impeachment of the president. Mr Comey said that he accepted Mr Trump’s right to fire him but claimed that the president “lied” about his motives and “defamed” the FBI. Nevertheless, he refused to say whether or not the president had attempted to obstruct justice when Mr Trump asked Mr Comey to let Mike Flynn, the former National Security Advisor, off the hook. He also denied that the president had ordered him to drop the investigation into Russian involvement in last year’s election.

Mr Comey came across as a public servant standing up for the reputation of his former agency, but his own time in office was controversial. Some Democrats blame his last-minute announcement of an investigation related to Hillary Clinton’s emails for losing them the White House, and it is the surprise outcome of the election that is really on trial. Many Americans still cannot believe it or accept it. Did the Russians try to interfere with the contest, senators asked Mr Comey? Yes, he said, but they did not physically change a single vote. And that exchange was typical of the way in which Mr Comey raised hopes of a smoking gun only to dash them.

Perhaps all Mr Trump is guilty of is naivite and ignorance about the FBI’s independence. These are not qualities one would desire in a US president, but nothing is going to change his job title for the moment. Indeed, it would be better if he could just get on with it. Mr Trump’s agenda contains some things that would be good for everyone: cut taxes, deregulate the economy, fight terrorism. He has, however, become bogged down in the very Washington swamp that he promised to drain.

This is in part his own fault. Mr Comey suggested that if Mr Trump had sacked him and stayed silent about his reasons, he might have happily retired into obscurity. Whether this is true or not, life would be less exciting but more peaceful if the president stayed off Twitter. Discipline is a virtue in politics. The White House needs to accept that the investigation is taking place and assist it. The president has to focus on getting legislation through Congress and uniting the free world — to reassert America’s critical leadership in the fight against terror.

— The Telegraph,

June 8

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