What’s Going On: The not so extraordinary testimony of James Comey

What's Going On




When reviewing words used to describe former FBI director James Comey’s testimony Thursday, salacious has to be my favorite. It sounds so … dirty.

It also happens to be the one word that’s probably the most sensationalized, although a case could be made all three are a bit of a stretch.

I watched a majority of the testimony and found it to be most unremarkable, and while not exactly ordinary, it certainly didn’t approach the levels of … salacious.

In fact, after watching the testimony and reading Comey’s statement that was released the previous day, I learned very little as much that was “revealed” was reported in some way or another before the highly anticipated event.

In short, Trump wanted Comey to stop investigating possible connections between his campaign and the Russians and Comey thinks Trump is a lying sleaze ball.

Again, what exactly is shocking or remarkable there?

Anyone hoping to see an “aha!” moment where it became crystal clear that Trump is either an overly persecuted victim or a criminal villain whose impeachment is imminent must have been greatly disappointed.

Comey spent most of the time defending his reputation and attacking Trump’s, but certainly didn’t reveal anything that is going to have any long lasting effect.

In fact, Comey went as far as to say he didn’t believe Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice, which could have been that aha moment many expected or wanted.

But it didn’t happen. What did happen was the revelation Donald Trump is still more businessman than politician. I have no difficulty believing Comey’s recollection of Trump asking him to back off the Russian investigation in a private one-on-one conversation. It’s the kind of back-room pressure tactic Trump has become accustomed to and experienced at using over his years of business dealings, but one that is frowned upon in the oval office.

And while it may be a political no-no, it certainly it isn’t one that will result in any serious political ramifications, and certainly nowhere near the burden needed for a Republican controlled house to draft articles of impeachment.

What will be much more important than Comey’s testimony, however, will be his predecessor’s investigation. Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, has been tasked with completing the investigation into Trump’s campaign and any possible collusion with the Russian government.

If that investigation reveals there was collaboration between the two, then Trump’s attempts to squelch it through his requests of Comey become much more serious. If Mueller finds nothing, Trump’s is guilty of nothing more than an inconsequential political misstep.

But most importantly, at least right now, Comey’s testimony will do nothing in the court of public opinion. Those who hated Trump before, still hate Trump today. They may feel more emboldened than before by rightfully claiming the former head of the FBI agrees with them, but again, at the end of the day that means nothing.

And those who support Trump won’t have had their minds changed either. Comey will simply be regarded as one of the many slithering reptiles found so abundantly in “the swamp” that their imperiled hero promised to vanquish. And that support of Trump’s base will be imperative to the Republicans in Congress refusing to even consider impeaching their own party’s leader.

So calling Thursday’s testimony remarkable, shocking, extraordinary or even salacious is more than a stretch. Entertaining for sure, but not much more than that.


Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at gorear@nujournal.com.


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