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Dancing Around the Truth

Don Rose 14 June 2017 No Comment

If lies were bricks, Donald trump could already have built his wall along the Mexican border.

He has now promised to testify “under oath” before the special counsel. The question is whether he will, under penalty of perjury, actually do so. If he does not–under claim of executive privilege–it will be among the worst of the promises he has broken.

safetydance

He also promised to divulge at some vague future date, whether he has tapes or other recordings of his meetings with James Comey. (Fat chance!)

On the other hand, considering his allergic estrangement from the truth, might he actually lie under oath?

Although he can get his press secretary and deputy press secretary to lie for him, he can’t exactly get his cabinet-level underlings to do so. We saw some remarkable verbal dancing at the senate hearings last Wednesday, the day before Comey’s big day of testimony.

Both Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, and Admiral Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, according to a credible Washington Post article, had been pressed by Trump to intervene with then-FBI Director Comey  to shut down the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.  Comey, of course, testified that Trump himself had asked him to do so.

Asked directly by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat Sen. Mark Warner and others whether the report was true, neither would answer the question–pausing, hesitating, looking uncomfortable,  but invoking neither executive privilege nor the 5th Amendment–nor claiming the information was “classified.”

Coats, a former senator, admitted there was no legal basis for not replying.  They displayed continuous discomfort, saying only it would be “inappropriate” to answer at an open hearing.

This refusal to answer a question posed by a congressional investigative committee, citing no legal excuse, is virtually unprecedented. All Rogers would say is he has never been asked to act “inappropriately.”

After much harrumphing they finally agreed to answer at a closed session.

Now what does their behavior tell us?

First, if the answer was “no, the president never asked me/us to intervene,” it would have been quite appropriate and a blessing for Trump to say so. By refusing to answer they were apparently avoiding perjury.

The logical conclusion is that the correct answer is “yes, I/we were asked to illegally intervene in Flynn’s investigation.”

One can only presume they will avoid perjury and answer “yes” at the closed session–which will add more evidence to the case against Trump for obstruction of justice.

As an  aside, one can infer that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tends to believe that Trump probably did ask Comey to tamp down the investigation–and possibly asked Coats and Rogers to intervene. Ryan came up with a wonderful excuse: He blamed Trump’s behavior on the fact that he was new at the job of president and didn’t realize it would be wrong to ask Comey to let Flynn go.

Ignorant of the rules? Then why did he clear the room of high-ranking witnesses before hitting on Comey?

Don’t you wish there really are recordings?

**
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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