I just about went apoplectic reading a post by John Sexton at Hot Air, titled Rep. Meadows: Comey’s Congressional Testimony At Odds With What He Told IG Horowitz, New Referral Needed:
Just last month IG Horowitz released a report which concluded that former FBI Director James Comey violated bureau policy by treating official records as if they were his personal documents. Today, Horowitz testified before Congress and was asked by Rep. Mark Meadows about some apparent discrepancies between what Comey told the IG during that investigation and what Comey had said during congressional testimony last year. Rep. Meadows said a referral would be forthcoming and Horowitz agreed to look over the information.
“We’ve taken, now, your report and we’ve put it side by side [with] congressional testimony that James Comey made before the joint oversight and judiciary hearing and I’m finding just a number of irregularities,” Meadows said. . . .
. . . .
“I’ll give you one example,” Meadows said. Referring to testimony Comey gave in December of 2018, Meadows continued, “Mr. Gowdy was asking, he said ‘Did you initiate an obstruction of justice investigation based on what the president said?’ It was a very clear question. Mr. Comey said ‘I don’t think so. I don’t recall doing that so I don’t think so.’
“However, on page 13 of your IG report, it says that Comey purposefully leaked the memo so that they could have a special counsel appointed to investigate obstruction of justice. So two of those can not be true. They’re at opposite dynamics in terms of what they’re constructing. And we have dozens of examples where that has happened.”
Meadows added, “So we’ll be referring those inconsistencies to you today, Mr. Horowitz, and I think that it’s important that the American people get to look at this.”
The two are not “at opposite dynamics” (whatever the heck that means) and both can be true — and guess what? Comey testified in December 2018 to the precise thing that Meadows is trying to suggest Comey tried to hide:
Mr. Gowdy: Your attorney questioned the relevance of that line of questioning by Mr. Ratcliffe. I want to take another stab at letting you know why we might be interested in it.
It’s been publicly reported, but I’m going to give you a chance to respond to it, that one of the reasons you instructed Professor Richman to provide that memo to the media was to spur the appointment of [a] special counsel. Is that correct or incorrect?
Mr. Comey: Yes, so that — to pursue the tapes.
Mr. Gowdy: Pardon me?
Mr. Comey: To pursue the tapes that President Trump had tweeted at me about. I was worried the Department of Justice, as currently led, would not go after White House tapes and that a special counsel would.
Meadows says this is inconsistent with what Sexton calls other December “testimony” from Comey (actually an interview, which you can read in its entirety here). It’s not. Here’s the full context of the relevant quote from that interview:
Mr. Gowdy: He then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying: Flynn’s a good guy and has been through a lot. He misled the Vice President, but he didn’t do anything wrong in the call. Said: I hope you can see your way clear of letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go. I replied by saying I agree he is a good guy, but said no more.
Have I fairly described that paragraph?
Mr. Comey: Yes. In fact, I think you read it.
Mr. Gowdy: Do the contents of that paragraph, are they sufficient to launch an obstruction of justice investigation?
Mr. Comey: Potentially.
Mr. Gowdy: What part of it potentially could lead to the initiation of an obstruction of justice investigation?
Mr. Comey: The President asking — one interpretation of it is the President asking the FBI to drop a criminal investigation.
Mr. Gowdy: Did you act or fail to act in any way in the Flynn matter because of what the President said to you?
Mr. Comey: Act or fail to act? I didn’t abide this direction. In fact, kept it to a fairly small group in FBI headquarters so it would not have any impact on the investigation.
Mr. Gowdy: But I’m asking you specifically —
Mr. Comey: I took acts — the reason I’m hesitating is I took acts to make sure it had no impact on the investigation.
Mr. Gowdy: I’m with you, but it did not — did his comments prevent you from following the leads that you thought should have been followed?
Mr. Comey: No.
Mr. Gowdy: Did his comments prevent you from taking any act as the Director of the FBI that you thought were warranted by the other fact pattern?
Mr. Comey: No. This had — I did not abide this. And it did not affect the investigation, so far as I’m aware, in any way.
Mr. Gowdy: Did you initiate an obstruction of justice investigation based on what the President said?
Mr. Comey: I don’t think so. I don’t recall doing that, so I don’t think so.
Mr. Gowdy: Would you recall initiating a criminal investigation into the President of the United States?
Mr. Comey: Yes, I’m sorry. I didn’t personally, but I took it also to mean, did anyone else in the FBI open a file with an obstruction heading or something? Not to my knowledge is the answer.
In context, Comey is being asked whether, as the Director of the FBI, he initiated an obstruction of justice investigation based on the President’s comments to the effect that he hoped that Comey would drop the investigation of his former campaign advisor and national security advisor.
And Mark Meadows is trying to say that Comey lied, because as a private citizen he leaked a memo with the hope that it would spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate obstruction of justice. Which Comey acknowledged in testimony in December 2018.
Meadows’s accusation is reckless, it’s uninformed, and it’s also a word we don’t use in polite company that people used to use to refer to the intellectually disabled. (Some people still do, and some presidential candidates think it’s pretty darned funny.)
It’s the accusation of a partisan hack.
Let the whatabouts and rationalizing begin!
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]