May 25, 2017

What "three separate occasions" was Trump referring to when he said that Comey had told him that he was not under investigation?

Here's Comey's friend Benjamin Witte explaining why he finds it "simply inconceivable to me that Comey would tell the President that." That is, he doesn't know, but he tries to imagine what Comey could have done, and he just can't.



Witte says "it would have been lunacy for Comey to assure the President that his conduct was not ultimately a matter of scrutiny in at least some of the investigative threads the FBI had—and has—ongoing." Lunacy? But perhaps Comey is a lunatic? Witte — conceding that Trump has said Comey is "a nut job" — assures us: "Comey is not, in fact, a lunatic."

Witte says it would be "completely inappropriate and irresponsible" for Comey to have assured the President he's not under investigation, and Comey is a man of dedication and integrity. Therefore, he couldn't have done it.

Finally, Witte says that Comey cared about the independence of the FBI, and therefore it's "inconceivable" that Comey would do anything other than resisting encroachments by the President.

Now, Witte concedes that something must have been said that makes Trump think he can make his "three times" statement. But what? Witte concedes that "there’s actually nothing unusual about a person who is wrapped up in a white collar investigation inquiring about his status within it." Often, Witte tells us, the Justice Department will tell people whether they are “witness,” a “subject,” or a “target.” Witte "wouldn’t be surprised at all" if Trump asked about his status and got an answer from Comey. So that's completely conceivable, and Witte's complaint dwindles down into an argument about what it means to be "under investigation."

Witte concedes that Trump might have asked "Am I under investigation?" and Comey might have answered "You are not currently the target of any investigation." Trump might have inaccurately paraphrased that statement to "not under investigation." It's not that different from the way Witte paraphrases "not under investigation" as "not ultimately a matter of scrutiny in at least some of the investigative threads the FBI had."

47 comments:

Ken B said...

Comey is alive. He is available to answer such questions. There is no legitimate reason to rely on, or even report, third hand speculation. There are only illegitimate reasons.

Bay Area Guy said...

Hey, no anonymous sources! A step up for CNN. But there's this:

When Cooper asked me about President Trump’s claim that then-FBI Director James Comey had assured him 3 times that he was not “under investigation," I said: “I have no firsthand knowledge of that. I’ve never talked to [Comey] about it, but I would bet every dollar that I have that no such communication ever took place.

If you have no first-hand knowledge, then you have no news. You are an analyst offering an opinion, nothing more.

So, between anonymous-sourced articles and opinion pieces, when will CNN report any news?

Jupiter said...

"Comey is a man of dedication and integrity"

Comey went on national TV to tell us all that
a) Hillary was guilty as Hell,
b) he could prove it, and
c) she wouldn't be charged.

Dedicated he may be. To what, would be the question.

Virtually Unknown said...

Witte says it would be "completely inappropriate and irresponsible" for Comey to have assured the President he's not under investigation, and Comey is a man of dedication and integrity. Therefore, he couldn't have done it.

Even if he wasn't actually under investigation? There are going to be some pretty depressed Democrats if the pony doesn't show up soon and all they got was horse shit. But I know, I know, never question the Great Pumpkin or he will never come!

Virtually Unknown said...

Witte says it would be "completely inappropriate and irresponsible" for Comey to have assured the President he's not under investigation,

Given the current propaganda needs of the Democratic Party. "Irresponsible" is one of those code words used, like "unhelpful" to chide those who have been truthful in public.

David Begley said...

I think the investigation was counterintelligence; not criminal. Big difference.

Darrell said...

Can we hang all the Democrats that were pushing this false narrative when this is all over?

rehajm said...

INVESTIGATION

under

lgv said...

In further deep penetrating investigative journalism, Anderson Cooper will be interviewing Mrs. Comey in order to get her opinion turned into purported facts with regard to communication she never heard.

Hagar said...

Aren't lawyers wonderful?
It all depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

Trump was asking for a straight answer from Comey, but just got more of what he knew to be B.S.
So he fired Comey.
End of story.

Michael K said...

Wittes is not a reliable source on this controversy. I didn't take time to research his Clinton connections, but he has them and his writings suggest he is a reliable Democrat source/

Detention and Denial: The Case for Candor after Guantánamo (2010), details how U.S. detention policy is a tangle of obfuscation, rather than a conscious serious set of moral, legal, and policy choices.

For example.

And it's Wittes.

Mike Sylwester said...

Comey is a man of dedication and integrity

Crazy Comey was conducting a fishing-expedition that would never end.

The FBI -- and the rest of the Intelligence Community -- is studying Trump and all his associates, looking for any relationships to Russia. If they find a thread, they will follow it, looking for any crime.

If they find a crime, they will snitch it to the Special Counselor, who will subpoena that person's testimony and records. The Special Counselor will get Trump's tax records, all of which will be released to the public.

Crazy Comey was our country's head policeman and he was the key person in a conspiracy to use police-state methods to remove the elected President from office.

holdfast said...

'Completely Inappropriate" is Comey's default setting.

Maybe he hoped HRC would give him his wish to be AG if he kept her out of jail?

Mike Sylwester said...

Comey is a man of dedication and integrity

Likewise, Robert Mueller is a man of dedication and integrity.

Whenever a special counselor is appointed, the mass media fills up with statements about how he is man of dedication and integrity.

Experience proves, however, that all of them conduct witch-hunts. They absolutely must convict some people of some crimes before they will give up their office. All of them dream an ultimate goal of removing the elected President from office. They all want to become historically famous as a President-slayer.

Mike Sylwester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

Comey is an idiot that divorced the FBI from law enforcement. He has Clinton ties a mile long (along with his brother.)

Mike Sylwester said...

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's immediate goal is to justify the Trump-Putin witch-hunt that has been conducted so far by Crazy Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Sally Yates and their ilk.

Mueller cannot conclude that this witch-hunt has been a police-state conspiracy, a disgrace and outrage that deserves to be exposed and condemned.

Therefore, Mueller must find that the smoke was caused by a real fire. Some Trump associate was doing some business with Russia and cut some corners and committed some paperwork errors. Therefore, Mueller will prove, the entire investigation was worthwhile and necessary.

Mueller must do at least that much. If possible, he as a man of dedication and integrity also must cause President Trump to be removed from office.

Kevin said...

Comey is alive. He is available to answer such questions.

He's also available to write more unimpeachable memos to leak through his friends to the WAPO.

You know, the same paper who assures us daily of his unimpeachable integrity in all things. #selfserving

Unknown said...

Is "Witte" a stage name for a "leaker"?

Maybe it's really Woody.

He sounds like a Woody.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

"This doesn't sound like something a person I know would do, given my personal judgement about that person, therefore this thing must not have happened."

Could there be a weaker form of evidence? It's not even "this person I know has never done this thing before, therefore it's unlikely they did this alleged thing now," and that's already extremely weak.

That doesn't seem like the kind of thing Comey would say, so we can all conclude there's no way Comey said it. Honestly who could be convinced by that, even before we introduce the ambiguities inherent in the likely actual communication (the ones the Professor points out)?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It would be inappropriate and wrong for me to look at that attractive woman's body when we passed on the street, therefore you should bet every dollar you have that I didn't take a peek back when she walked by.

It would be inappropriate and wrong for someone of upstanding moral character like Mitt Romney to cheat on his taxes in any way, therefore it's a fact that he paid in full and we in the Media will not tolerate anyone implying otherwise.

It would be inappropriate and wrong for person X to do wrong thing Y, therefore we should assume person X did not do thing Y. Not exactly convincing, guy.

Lewis Wetzel said...

I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and say that Trump meddled in our 2016 presidential election.
You can quote me on that.

Bay Area Guy said...

A gentle reminder:

1. The Dems lost an election they thought they were going to win.
2. They are still butt-hurt over the loss.
3. To explain the loss, they have blamed a Russian-Trump collusion.
4. DNC staffer, Seth Rich, a Bernie supporter, is the person who leaked the DNC emails to Wikileaks. It wasn't a Russian hack job.
5. Seth Rich was murdered.
6. Hillary is still not President.
7. Nobody has been indicted.

That is all.

M Jordan said...

I've spent some time musing on how regular people turn evil. Sociopaths are one thing, but how does a guy like Jim Comey, well dressed, handsome, articulate (to a degree), educated ... how does such a person move from good guy to bad guy? How did the Clintons make the transition? My conclusion is they did it gradually. And -- very important -- every inch of the slide they descended, they rationalized. They were never at fault. They were virtuous, even. As a result, they have no idea what they've become.

Comey to me is now a bad guy. If his story is one-half as bad as Jerry Pournelle paints it, he needs to go to prison. He put Martha Stewart in the slammer for so much less than Hillary did. But he won't go, nor will the Clintons, nor Susan Rice, nor Obama no matter what the facts eventually show. Nixon's crew went en masse but we'll never see the same for Democrats.

It's disheartening.

Fen said...

Comey is not a man of integrity. He is a political creature with no qualifications to be at FBI. He was chosen to cover up corrupt acts of Obama and Hillary.

Bad Lieutenant said...


With the permission of Brutus and the others—for Brutus is an honorable man; they are all honorable men—I have come here to speak at Caesar's funeral. He was my friend, he was faithful and just to me. But Brutus says he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man.




No Fear Shakespeare: Julius Caesar: Act 3, Scene 2, Page 4



M Jordan, one word describes Comey and his type:

Weak.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Hagar said...Aren't lawyers wonderful?
It all depends on what the meaning of "is" is.


Good point, Hagar; that goes back to the Professor's point about Trump not "thinking legally" as his default mode of operation--that might contribute to an honest misunderstanding in cases like this (when talking to a lawyer who is using very precise language that could be reasonably interpreted in a less-precise way).

dreams said...

We need to remember that the FBI was complicit in the IRS scandal, they were just another part of the corrupt Obama administration and that includes the new special counsel Robert Mueller.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Now that makes it look like genius for Trump to include that phrasing in the firing letter. We'll see. The line between genius and incredibly stupid depends on a lot on luck.

Hagar said...

I don't think it was "an honest misunderstanding." I think Trump was testing Comey and it worked out like he thought it would.

dreams said...

"Comey to me is now a bad guy. If his story is one-half as bad as Jerry Pournelle paints it, he needs to go to prison. He put Martha Stewart in the slammer for so much less than Hillary did. But he won't go, nor will the Clintons, nor Susan Rice, nor Obama no matter what the facts eventually show. Nixon's crew went en masse but we'll never see the same for Democrats.

It's disheartening."

I agree.

Achilles said...

What will Robert Mueller do when he finds Seth Rich's laptop in the trunk of Comey s car?

cubanbob said...

I don't see why AG Sessions is screwing around with this. His DoJ should be seriously looking at charging Comey, the Clintons, former AG Lynch among others for obstruction of justice along with the other crimes they have committed.

Birches said...

I appreciate you trying to find some humor in the absurdity in all of this. Me? It's all turning into white noise.

n.n said...

I have no firsthand knowledge of that

So, Witte is a character witness for Comey. Any testimony to support the trumped up allegations against the president are only slightly better than the innuendo, inference, displacement, and creation employed by Democrats, journolists, and foreign parties in their year-long baby hunt.

No dead soviets in the Water Closet is positive progress.

eric said...

This perfectly illustrates the problem with "sources" that we know nothing about.

In this story, there is follow up. There is a person we know. And journalists ask questions. And we get to decide based on the interview what we think. We know who the person is and what their relationship is with others and we can parse the questions and answers.

But what happens when "sources say" that friends close to Comey say he never told Trump he wasn't under investigation?

Wouldn't that be an accurate account, according to today's Journalists, of what Witte said?

To put it another way, imagine all these things being said by Witte to a journalist off the record. How would the NYT or WaPo write that up?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

This passage is interesting:
Except, that is, by resigning. But resigning would have abnegated his ongoing efforts to shield the Bureau from Trump and the cabal around him—efforts I know he considered a matter of personal honor and mission.

The "cabal around" Trump? A cabal is a secret group working on a secret plan to benefit that group, right? I mean this is a big time smart guy lawyer so we can assume he's chosen his words with care and precision here. A cabal? He sees the people in the Trump administration--the duly elected and appointed members of the Executive branch, presumably--as a cabal? Or is he asserting the existence of some group of plotters and schemers apart from actual Trump admin. people?!
Seems like a revealing word choice, really.

n.n said...

Is Seth Rich the "Deep Plunger" that overflowed Water Closet, which was denied by The Washington Post, projected on dead Soviets, and justified the Democrat's year-long baby hunt? Comey may know.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Comey is a man of dedication and integrity"

I don't think that he has ever really been that. He was a grandstanding federal prosecutor, putting people in prison in high profile cases for far less than he let Crooked Hillary get away with, then went to work for Lockheed and got them a lot of govt contracts, followed by representing a bank that was active in bypassing sanctions, getting them off without anyone doing prison time, followed by the FBI gig. I think that the dedication and integrity claim has, always, been "fake news", fluff designed to justify his appointment to the FBI post that he was neither professionally nor ethically qualified for. I don't think that he was really a Clintonista, but rather owes loyalty to Sen Schumer, who is likely the one who got him the FBI gig.

Martin said...

In other words, Witte doesn't have a clue and knows no more about what Trump and Comey might have said than does the man in the moon.

This is what passes for "news," and the media all wonder why the public doesn't believe them and Trump can get away with calling them dishonest.

Bruce Hayden said...

What White and the reporter seem to be ignoring is that the FBI now has two job responsibilities: criminal investigations and counter-terrorism. The investigation, at least up until Mueller was appointed, was counter terrorism, and not a criminal investigation. FISA is only applicable to counter-terrorism, and there haven't been any plausible explanations of what laws may have been broken by Trump, or even his people. But definitely not Trump here. There were no criminal investigations of Trump, since there was never any evidence that he (or his people) had ever broken any federal law. The FBI can't just start investigating someone because the want to and don't like their politics. They have to at least have (or manufacture) some possibly incriminating evidence. Something to show reasonable suspicion of a violation of some federal law (above and beyond the Logan Act). If there really had been reasonable suspicion that Trump (or his people) had violated such, Comey was probably obligated to tell this immediate supervisors.

Besides, how could Comey tell his third level boss "no comment", with a straight face, when he broke protocol with his opponent in the last election on multiple occasions?

khesanh0802 said...

I refer everyone to the link someone provided yesterday to Pournelle's piece about Comey. Comey is no white knight, I suspect that will become more evident over time. As Martin says above, Witte has no idea what passed between Comey and Trump.

Given Comey's bootlicking performance on Hillary's secret servers I would assume the "worst" of Comey. Certainly I would not give him the benefit of the doubt on following policy and procedure.

steve uhr said...

Trump's theory is that a big lie is more likely to be believed. If he said it happened three times then more people will believe that it happened at least once than if he said it only happened once. Or something like that.

khesanh0802 said...

Sorry, I came in late. I see Pournelle has gotten his due above.

Seeing Red said...

Lolol I'm at a restaurant with CNN. Russian documents are dubious? Coney sucked in?

Not only Comey! Or are we at the appearance of impropriety?

Mike Sylwester said...

I just now got around to reading the Pournelle article about Crazy Comey.

Everyone should read it.

https://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/recovery-opinionanalysis-on-comey-and-draining-the-swamp-a-note-on-education/

hombre said...

The fact that Democrats and the leftmedia would have preferred that Comey not inform the President of the United States that he was not the subject of an investigation does not make it improper for Comey to have done so.

Comey would know that.