AUSTIN (KXAN) — Most Americans are bombarded by media every hour of every day. In Mezes Hall at the University of Texas, new technology allows UT History Professor Jeremi Suri to give a lecture, live and online, to his students around the country for his summer course. Today’s topic? Seeing fired FBI Director James Comey give an unfiltered account of what happened.
“So Comey’s testimony, in a sense, is an effort to be an antidote to all the spinning that various other groups are using to try and get their point of view across,” Suri told his online class.
Partisan messages swirl around the entire investigation into the Russian connection to the Trump campaign, but Suri says Americans can trust the former FBI director.
“You can’t dismiss it. You cannot call him simply a partisan hack. He has a career of work behind him. He has worked for both parties. He has attacked presidents of both parties,” said Suri. “That doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything he does. It does mean that we need to take what he says seriously.”
Most politicians make claims, then find facts to support them. Law enforcement officials, do the opposite; they find the facts, then come to a conclusion. Key senators learned many of those today.
Important Points of Comey’s testimony
Comey kept detailed notes on meetings with President Trump. “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting,” he testified.
Comey ordered those memos leaked to the press soon after his firing. “I asked a friend of mine to share content of memo with a reporter,” he said, “I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney claimed victory after Comey confirmed the president himself was not under investigation. But, Comey testified that he wasn’t fired because he lost the confidence of the FBI. “By saying the organization was in disarray, poorly led, that the workforce lost confidence in its leader, those were lies, plain and simple,” he said. “It’s my judgment I was fired because of the Russia investigation.”
“The president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone,” said Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz. That was a focus for Republicans, the president never explicitly told Comey to drop the investigation into Trump’s security adviser Michael Flynn.”
“I took it as a direction. He’s president of the United States,” said Comey.
“You may have taken it as a direction but that’s not what he said?” asked Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, during the hearing.
Comey answered, “Correct.”
Comey says the president told him he expected loyalty, But Kasowitz says that never happened.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was very active in questions and then stayed for the classified brief afterward.
A spokesperson for Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tells KXAN since Cruz isn’t on the committee, he wanted to take time and review Comey’s entire testimony before commenting.
But out of all seven Republican Congressional members in our area (Smith, Williams, Farenthold, McCaul, Flores, Carter, and Conaway) the only one to respond to questions concern Comey was Congressman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.
“Mr. Comey said in his testimony today that President Trump did not instruct him to drop the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election and he reaffirmed Trump’s statement that Trump was never under investigation. Mr. Comey’s testimony disproves many of the exaggerated allegations and shows that the President did not try to stop the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the election,” Rep. Smith told KXAN.
KXAN’s Phil Prazan took that point to the lone Democrat in Central Texas, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and asked him, if that lets the president off the hook? Instead, Doggett said it showed that Comey isn’t acting along partisan lines.
“He was not singling out the president. He was trying to get to the bottom of a serious threat to our democracy of Russian interference in the election. But, certainly, now that we’ve seen this attempt to cover up everything, it raises real questions about the conduct of the president,” Rep. Doggett told KXAN during an interview in D.C.
Doggett also said “it’s premature” to call for the impeachment of Trump, unlike his Texas colleague, Rep. Al Green. He’s waiting for the special counsel’s investigation to release their findings. That investigation has just hired on more people to look into if the Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government.