Yesterday provided a stark reminder of what seems to be a rule in politics, at least on a personal level. All the good stuff happens on my day off.
As I’m sure everyone saw by now, what was supposed to be a fairly routine Rose Garden appearance with the President of Romania turned out to be anything but. (Seriously folks… when is anything routine this year?) All of the current brouhaha revolves around a reporter’s question about Trump’s response to the James Comey testimony. So you say you’d be willing to testify. Under oath? 100%.
When Allahpundit wrote about this yesterday he called it both the worst idea ever and the best television ever. And yes, if this were something that was going to be on television – or perhaps even pay per view – it would be stellar. Don’t scoff at the pay per view idea, either. Nearly 20 million people tuned in to watch Comey testify. Just to put that in perspective, the season finale of Dancing With the Stars only drew 11.9 million sets of eyeballs. Trump responding under oath about Comey? The people selling ad time at CNN are wetting themselves just reading this. It would be, as AP said, the equivalent of the Super Bowl being played on the moon and using a live bomb in place of the ball.
Odds are, of course, that this was a one-off comment by the President and he probably has no plans of doing any such thing. (Or if he does, his legal team is spending the weekend frantically trying to talk him out of it.) But what would that testimony look like and where would it take place? Let’s look at the suggested scenario via CNN.
A defiant President Donald Trump said Friday he was willing to testify under oath about his conversations with James Comey, further fueling the swirling controversy ignited by the fired FBI director’s bombshell testimony before the Senate on Thursday.
“One hundred percent,” Trump said when asked about his willingness to deliver sworn testimony.
Trump aggressively addressed some questions during the bilateral news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday, but coyly answered others. Asked directly whether he was recording conversations in the Oval Office — a claim he hinted at on Twitter last month — Trump dodged.
Comey was testifying before the Senate under oath. But what sort of hearing would justify dragging the President in? Doesn’t it sound more likely that this would be testimony given to Bob Mueller? (And hence almost certainly not available for broadcast.) That’s been suggested by some folks, but I don’t think so. Mueller is supposedly in charge of the investigation into Russian election tampering and possible collusion on same with either Trump or members of his team. Comey already emptied the bag on that count and said that the President isn’t under investigation.
So that brings us back to the Senate hearings. Everyone seems to universally agree that this would be a bad idea. But perhaps not. There would be risk involved for sure and somebody would need to coach the President in advance. If he said anything under oath which could later be definitively proven to be false he’d be facing perjury charges which are an actual impeachable offense. (They came fairly close to getting Clinton on that one and he was only talking about “pizza and cigars” in the Oval Office.) But if the main subject is his private conversation with Comey then it’s a He Said – He Said thing unless he actually does have some recordings. (Extremely unlikely in my opinion.) Absent a replay that’s going to be a hard perjury charge to make stick.
But once he’s in the chair and under oath, couldn’t committee members being going all over the map and asking him about… anything? Sure. And he could refuse to answer on any of a variety of grounds if they strayed away from the subject he volunteered to testify about. The worst he comes out with in that case is an obstruction of the Senate charge which he’d probably laugh off.
So why do it at all? What is there to gain? That part is easy. There is zero, zilch nada to be accomplished in terms of clearing any possible charges the Democrats would like to bring against him, but it turns the entire circus on its head yet again and makes Trump the ring master in the center of the storm, bellowing at the lightning. That’s exactly what he likes and the nation would be riveted. It would all be sound and fury, signifying nothing, but Trump would walk outside, declare victory and go home.
So in the end, once again noting that this is entirely hypothetical at this point and unlikely to happen, the question isn’t why would Trump do that. The real query is… why wouldn’t he?