During the endless ratings bonanza which was the Comey testimony, you may recall that the former FBI Director was asked multiple times in several variations of wording about what the President said to him about the Flynn investigation and, in a more general sense, all of the Russia questions. Was he asked to drop the investigation? No. Was he told to drop the investigation? No. Was he ordered to drop the investigation? Again and again… no. And did he, after all the inferences and “hopes” allegedly expressed by the President of the United States, actually wind up dropping the investigation? Nope.
If that was a case of obstruction of justice in the legal sense, the would-be obstructionist was really bad at their job.
But that didn’t stop Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – Calif.) from joining in with some of her fellow Democrats and calling for the investigations into possible obstruction charges anyway. Because… Trump. (The Hill)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is calling on the Judiciary Committee to investigate possible obstruction of justice in the ongoing controversy over President Trump’s firing FBI director James Comey, including subpoenaing officials to testify if they don’t cooperate.
“It is my strong recommendation that the Judiciary Committee investigate all issues that raise a question of obstruction of justice. These issues should be … subject to full committee hearings,” Feinstein wrote in a letter Friday to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the committee.
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, added that she and Grassley agree that “termination of the FBI director and any efforts to interfere with the independence of ongoing investigations” are the jurisdiction of their committee.
It’s not as if Feinstein hasn’t been telegraphing her punches from the beginning. You may recall that the California Senator provided one of the leading highlight reel moments of the Comey testimony when she talked about what a “big strong man” Comey is, demanding to know why he didn’t step up and get in Trump’s face during their meeting. (LA Times, video follows with excerpt)
“You’re big, you’re strong,” the veteran Democratic senator told Comey. “I know the Oval Office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr. President, this is wrong – I cannot discuss that with you’?”
“Maybe if I were stronger, I would have,” Comey replied. “I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in.”
We live in the era of hot takes and that doesn’t just apply to the media. Members of the Senate are in on the act too. You need to feed the base all the red meat they desire if you want to build up a head of steam heading into the midterms. Whether that means calling for televised hearings into a question which seems to have already been asked and answered or just dropping some F-bombs during public remarks, everyone wants to generate some clickbait to keep their base happy.
Kicking off these hearings in the Judiciary Committee is precisely in line with the overall DNC strategy. It keeps the focus on supposed wrongdoing by the President and bogs down any progress on getting his agenda moved forward in the legislature. And with a willing and compliant press corps, just the phrase, “Obstruction of Justice” sends a thrill down their collective legs because it allows them to keep talking about impeachment. (And they’re working on that already too.) It’s all too perfect.
So will it go forward? I don’t see how you avoid that. This plays perfectly for the Democrats because if any Republicans on the committee object they’ll immediately be labeled as “providing cover” for the President. Then, of course, it will takes weeks if not months to line up various witnesses to interrogate, giving cable news talkers endless fodder to go on and on and on about it. And if it produces absolutely nothing when all is said and done? No problem. The hearings still served their purpose in terms of the ongoing, slow motion coup. In terms of political warfare it’s fairly brilliant, really.