It’s Comey versus Trump partisans


Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director James Comey isn’t leaving much in doubt.

In his testimony prepared for his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, Comey states that Trump considered the FBI probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia agents a “cloud” hobbling his presidency. He wanted Comey’s help to “lift” it.

Oh, and one more thing. The president who routinely calls the allegations of collusion a “hoax”, wondered out loud to Comey if perhaps some of Trump’s “satellite” associates might indeed have done something untoward with the Russians.

According to a Washington Post report, which the director of national intelligence Dan Coats declined to dispute in testimony on Wednesday, we already know that Trump asked Coats to intervene with Comey on the FBI Russia probe.

These reports, and others, don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in the context of Trump’s conduct — especially his uncanny practice of executing Vladimir Putin’s agenda sowing division in Europe and the US. Given how calamitous Trump’s administration has been at home and abroad, it’s fair to say that Putin’s agenda has been served, intentionally or not, more competently than any American’s.

That’s certainly true for many Trump voters, who have so far been rewarded with chimerical factory jobs and a make-believe revival of coal mining. But as the evidence of corruption gathers atop the evidence of Trump’s incompetence and the evidence of his seemingly bottomless bad faith, it’s still unclear how much of American society can bring itself to accept evidence of any kind.

At Vox, Sarah Kliff wrote about Kentucky’s fifth congressional district, where life expectancy is among the lowest in the nation and where residents are deeply dependent on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to access healthcare.

The district is also overwhelmingly Republican. Voters in the district supported Trump and the local GOP (Grand Old Party) congressman Hal Rogers. If Republicans pass their repeal of the ACA, and Trump signs it, some residents of the fifth will surely pay for it with shorter lives.

“You know, thinking about it, I’m not even sure what I expected. I just thought it would miraculously work out wonderful for everybody,” Bobbi Smith, a 62-year-old Obamacare enrollee who voted for Trump, says. “So I guess maybe I didn’t put enough thought into what I would expect from a healthcare act.”

Smith’s embrace of a political party that wants to take away her access to healthcare is a perverse tribute to the power of partisanship over self-preservation. But Kliff spoke to others in similar straits. “They felt like they had picked a side,” Kliff wrote, “and now they were going to stick with it.”

Since Trump’s election, similar anecdotes have been rolling in. After a campaign in which Trump repeatedly slandered Mexicans and vowed to rid the land of undocumented immigrants, a Trump supporter in Indiana was surprised when her husband, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was deported. She thought, she told the South Bend Tribune, that Trump would only deport “bad hombres”.

The Washington Post reported on Mike Catanzaro, a solar panel installer who voted for Trump, even though Trump was transparently hostile to green energy and championed the dirtiest carbon energy source, coal, above all others. “I was in favour of Trump, which I might regret now,” Catanzaro said in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

Given a choice between believing Trump or their own eyes and ears, many voters opted to believe the con man with a long history of scams.

Republican members of Congress know that Trump is a disaster. They convey their sophistication in eye rolls, shakes of the head and exasperated sighs. What they do not do is clearly signal to their voters that the president of the US is wholly unfit for his office.

Comey’s testimony is another milestone in the Trump corruption saga. But it will be a milestone that many, in Congress and out, will choose not to see. — Bloomberg

  • This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.