The public session of the Comey hearings just ended. On the whole there was nothing really that added to his prepared statement. Unsurprisingly, he came across as sincere, articulate, open, and direct.
He was a convincing witness, but probably did not win over many Trump believers. Without more vivid evidence of obstruction of justice, there is not likely to be any real action.
There were two things that did happen, which were sad and interesting.
One Republican Senator asked Comey: “When Trump asked you to let Flynn go and lift the Russian cloud, why you didn’t simply say, ‘Mr. President you should not make those requests of me, and I cannot and will not respond.’”
After fumbling around a bit he said, uncomfortably, that he was not Captain Courageous in the Oval Office and perhaps he should have said that. And, as he had previously made clear, he had every intention of completing the last seven years of his term. It is fair to assume that Comey figured that if he had said that, Trump would have fired him on the spot. Therefore, he fudged a bit and bought a little time, though he did make clear enough that he could not/would not be bought off.
It was a genuine dance of elephants in the Oval Office at that moment.
The bottom line is that Comey is smart, independent, and tough, but he loved his job enough to hope he could weave his way through the Trump jungle.
The other troubling moment was Senator McCain who appeared to be VERY confused. Comey wisely did not deal with McCain head on and let it pass in an elegant way.
McCain wanted to know why he—Comey—cleared Clinton last summer of everything– including Russian interference– and could not clear Trump now on the same basis—overlooking the obvious fact that there was not, at that time, a public investigation of the Russian matter and that the Clinton matter was completely different . Evidently along with McCain confusing the names of Trump and Comey on two occasions, McCain mistakenly conflated the two different matters of Clinton’s computers and the Russian interference.
That diversion probably will have little or no effect on the Comey-related matters, but it is saddening to see a grand old man wilt in front of such a large audience. Though McCain was never up to being President, he has been a very honorable and distinguished man in the military and the Senate, and deserves a better ending.
The next steps in the Trump saga will be Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigations.