Every time I see the MSM exploding with The Big Thing they’ve just found which will finally take President Donald Trump down I tend to approach the story with more than a little skepticism. We’ve run this fire drill so many times now that it’s almost becoming routine. But Bloomberg has released some information it dug up regarding Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant which might – possibly – expose a case where the President was caught telling a fib.
They’re digging into the details of a trip which people have been examining since last summer, and it’s one which was tied into certain items that showed up in the Steele dossier. The Comey memos claim that this is something he discussed with the President on two occasions, with Trump insisting each time that he either didn’t spend the night in Moscow or never even had time to sleep while he was there. What Bloomberg has dredged up is the flight logs for the private jet which ferried Trump to and from the event, indicating that he must have spent at least one night in the Russian capital.
President Donald Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations.
Yet the broad timeline of Trump’s stay, stretching from Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, through the following Sunday morning, has been widely reported. And it’s substantiated by social media posts that show he slept in Moscow the night before the Miss Universe contest.
Now, flight records obtained by Bloomberg provide fresh details. Combined with existing accounts and Trump’s own social-media posts, they capture two days that, nearly five years later, loom large in the controversy engulfing the White House and at the heart of the Comey memos, which the Justice Department turned over last week to Congress.
Neither the White House nor Trump Organization immediately responded to requests for comment.
All of the logs and related social media posts are listed in Bloomberg’s report but the timeline seems fairly clear. Trump left North Carolina on a private jet owned by his business partner, Phil Ruffin, on Thursday night, November 7, 2013. The plane arrived some time Friday morning and Trump checked in at the Ritz-Carlton. On Saturday, November 9th (the day of the pageant), Trump attended some meetings and a dinner, went to the Miss Universe gala, hit an after-party which ran into the early hours of Sunday morning, got back on the plane and flew back to the United States.
So, assuming that the information in the Comey memos is accurate, Trump lied to him about having “not spent the night” in Moscow. Whether or not this can be verified and if it represents any actual danger for Trump is another matter entirely. I can’t find any public statements from the President over whether or not he “spent the night” in Moscow and the alleged statements weren’t made to Comey in some official hearing under oath. Comey claims the President told him this twice. Once was over dinner at the White House in January 2017 and the other came during a subsequent “conversation” in the Oval Office the following month.
So we’re not talking about perjury here. Politico is making the case that this could aid Robert Mueller in his investigation and demonstrate a “conscious effort by Trump to mislead the FBI director” and therefore add to an obstruction charge. I suppose it’s possible.
But was it even a lie? If the President knowingly and intentionally told Comey something which could be mostly disproven by Tweets and Facebook posts that would be incredibly inept. But look at what Comey actually recorded in his memos. He said that Trump, “had spoken to people who had been on… the trip with him and they had reminded him that he didn’t stay over night in Russia for” the Miss Universe trip. If Comey is recording the conversation word for word, that wasn’t even a case of Trump making the claim. He was saying that other people “reminded” him of that. Could he have forgotten the details of the trip himself? The guy travels a lot so I suppose anything’s possible.
I don’t know if Bloomberg is actually onto something here or not. If the President gets caught up in a documented lie, that’s bad news for him. But if it’s not a lie given under oath it’s probably not impeachment level bad news. We’ll need to wait for some sort of official response either from the White House or – eventually – Mueller on this one.