Its still early days in the Trump v. Comey heavyweight fight to define the reality of what exactly was said between the two men behind closed doors. The stakes are, of course, high as their encountersor how they are perceived and whose version is believedwill go a long way in determining whether Trump obstructed justice, legally speaking and in public opinion. Since his firing last week, Comeys corner has been publicly setting the stage for the former FBI director by leaking bits and pieces, drips and drabs, along with bombshells, of Comeys side of things. And it has been devastating for Trump. The release of portions of Comeys memos to the New York Times, which chronicle his interactions with Trump, has shaken portions of the presidents Republican support in Congress and effectively prompted the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
After the Comey memo, which detailed Trumps attempts at securing the FBI directors loyalty and commitment to lay off in the investigation into then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, the feeling was that Trumps actions were minimally unbecoming of a president, but the public discussion quickly turned to what, exactly, is the definition of obstruction of justice. And what does it look like in the real world? That’s a worrying development for Trump. On Thursday, the New York Times added fresh logs onto the Is It Obstruction of Justice Yet? fire.
The Times story adds incremental credence to the assertion that Trump was poking around for ways to curry favor with Comey to quietly relieve some of the pressure the Russia inquiry was putting on his administration. The Trump White House has obviously denied more or less everything, but has so thoroughly leeched the credibility out of the office of the president and the man who inhabits it that its difficult to know if the administration still has its ethical bearings enough to even know where the truth begins and ends anymore.
Given everything we know about and have seen of Donald Trump over the past nearly two years as a candidate and now as a president, it seems not only highly plausible, but a near certainty, that Trump would do anything he pleased to discredit or, better yet, end the investigation into him and his allies. If Comeys version is to be believed, it’s clear what Trump was getting at during his discussion with the man who was in charge of investigating him. Was it unethical? Yes. Was it improper? Yes. Was it obstruction of justice? A few more drips and drabs and time will tell.