Comey Testimony’s & Trump: What We Learned about Russia & His Firing

The narrative that the Trump team colluded with Russia took a hit, but the claim that Trump abused his power in firing Comey got a boost.

There is much to unpack in former FBI director James Comey’s almost three hours of live testimony today, but my summary is rather simple. The “big” conspiracy theory that’s circulating online — that Trump and his team colluded with the Russians, and Trump fired Comey because he was getting close to the truth — took some serious body blows. The smaller scandal (compared to active collusion with the Russians) — that Trump either abused his power or potentially obstructed justice when he fired James Comey — got a modest boost. At the same time, there’s still an enormous amount of information that we simply don’t have. Let’s break this down.

First, and this is critically important given the concerns about Russian collusion, Comey emphatically disputed a New York Times story that has served as the foundation for an enormous amount of public speculation of improper conduct. That story began:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

Obviously, if true, the report is deeply alarming. But today Comey said, under oath, that the story was “almost entirely wrong.” We still don’t know the nature and extent of Trump team communications with Russia, but the Times report was an important part of the worst conspiracy narratives, and now it’s relegated to the ash heap.

…continue reading

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