The five lines of defense against Comey — and why they failed

David Frum writes: Thursday was a bad, bad day for Team Trump. Things looked even worse at the end of the day than they did when the Senate Intelligence Committee adjourned midday.

The first line of defense—revealed by the president’s own team yesterday—is that Comey somehow vindicated Trump by confirming that he told Trump in January that Trump was not personally a target of an investigation. But if that assurance had been enough for the president, Trump would not have added the demand that Comey end the investigation of Michael Flynn. Trump evidently felt strongly motivated to protect Flynn—more strongly motivated than he had been to protect any of his other associates.

Line two of defense is that the president’s expression of a “hope” that Mike Flynn could be “let go” merely expressed a wish, not an order. But Adam Liptak, Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times, almost instantly produced an example of an obstruction of justice conviction that rested precisely on “I hope” language—and the all-seeing eye of Twitter quickly found more. Anyone who has ever seen a gangster movie has heard the joke, “Nice little dry cleaning store, I hope nothing happens to it.” The blunt fact is that after Comey declined to drop the investigation or publicly clear the president, Trump fired Comey. A hope enforced by dismissal is more than a wish. [Continue reading…]

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