I watched the live testimony Jim Comey gave to Senate Judiciary. I have only just now scooped my jaw up from the ground. In addition to the outright revelations (I mean really–the description of the Hospital scene was right out of some thriller movie?) there are many many breadcrumbs that raise lots of tantalizing questions.
For example, at one point he said that the reason the telephone call got through to Ashcroft's hospital room despite Mrs. Ashcroft's ban on such contacts, was because the President called. I guess the switchboard at the hospital didn't think patient privacy rights mattered any more. Later, he corrected himself and said it was "someone at the White House" — I guess because he had no direct knowledge that it was the President. But think about it, the White House called and said WH Counsel Gonzales and Andy Card were on their way over with something for him to sign.
Couple interesting points right there:
We know there was a "command center" set up in the room next door to Ashcroft's so if someone needed to get some info to him on the up and up, they could have called and left a message for him there and not run the risk of interrupting his sleep or a medical exam. But if Bush was trying to pressure Ashcroft without anybody knowing about it, he couldn't afford to leave messages with FBI agents (a/k/a witnesses who just happen to have chosen law enforcement as their life's work) and would have had to have called Ashcroft directly. With only the two of them in the conversation, no fingerprints.
Secondly, why did Mrs. Ashcroft blow the whistle to Ashcroft's chief of staff, who in turn blew the whistle to Comey? Did Ashcroft tell her to? Did all these folks anticipate that something like this might happen and already have some idea of what their response would be if it did happen? Cause not for nuthin' folks, but Comey seemed to have a pretty well developed rapid response ready to go on only seconds of notice.
Why did Director Muller immediately understand why he was being pulled out of a dinner party and not hesitate to get on the road at once? Why did he feel the need to telephone the FBI agents that were in Comey's security detail and order them "not to allow [Comey] to be removed from the room"? Hells bells! What were they expecting to do, have a shootout in a hospital corridor? OK, maybe the feebies were just supposed to be like bouncers at a bar?
Also, before Comey even leaves the hospital Card already knows about possible wholesale resignations at DOJ? Again, it sounds like there were events that led up to this that were sufficient for people to have time to make those kinds of life altering decisions and for word to get around. There has to be more here.
Now for Alberto. Comey completely contradicts Gonzales' own testimony about being uninvolved in the firings. He goes out of his way to describe Gonzales as engaged in the running of the department.
Little quote from Marcy's liveblogging
AS Are you sufficiently knowledgeable of USA purge to give statement about his claim that AGAG was not involved?
JC I am probably more versed than most people. I gather he has corrected that statement.
AS No, I don't think he has corrected that. I've said that if he would tell us why these USAs were fired, it would help. That can all be … "he can recant what he has said"
When asked about Gonzales' statement about that he was not involved in the firings — Comey not only said that he (Comey) was more well versed in that subject than most, but also stated an assumption that Gonzales had since "corrected" his testimony. I immediately thought were did he get an idea like that? Did I miss a news item?
Specter had to tell the world that AGAG had NOT corrected his testimony and then Specter puts out a plea for Gonzales to "recant". What's that all about? It sounded like a last ditch effort to get Gonzales to avoid Scooter Libby's fate.
It also makes me wonder about that 5th GJ appearance of Rove's. Did Rove "recant" his prior sworn testimony and therefor purge his GJ testimony of perjury and in that way deprive Fitzgerald of a nice clean plain vanilla case against him? Does Specter suppose that that would also apply to lying to Congress? The statute involving lying to the GJ has a special get out jail free card if you recant before the GJ expires, Without doing the research (yet) I don't know off the top of my head of any similar exception when you perjure yourself before Congress. Anyway, it seems not to matter, because Gonzales has evidently decided to do the Scooter Libby thing and stick to his story no matter how objectively disprovable.
It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that there is some monster backstory there. Was there a private conversation between Comey and Specter wherein Comey told Specter that there was no way Gonzales could be telling the truth? Did Specter tell Comey that he would get Gonzales to correct the records? What in hell was that exchange all about?
And of course the damning Gonzales while trying to avoid answering the question. The first time Kohl asked the question, off the top of his head, without pausing to think, Comey says he is not here to dump on the AG. That clearly implies that what he has to say would be something that would be construed as dumping on the AG. Thereafter, Kohl keeps at it, asking for Comey's opinion of the AG. Comey, very appropriately in my view, plainly states that it is not his place to offer that opinion.
Although the sound of crickets loudly chirping when he was asked to name a single example of an act of good judgment by Gonzales was tons and tons of fun for me–please let Colbert use that !– I really do think it was just the result of being put on the spot.
I note that no one has yet asked him about his own actual resignation from the Department and what triggered that. I still think there is some kind of story there as well. He once again made plain how much he misses being at DOJ. That does not sound like a guy who left for greener pastures, though I realize he makes a lot more money now.
Unfortunately, the link to the video feed does not allow for replays and CSPAN is not hosting. When a transcript becomes available (or somebody hosts the video in a more accessible way) I'm going to try to go over it more carefully. But it very clear to me that like the going away speech, this testimony is going to be a gift that keeps on giving.
On a more prosaic note, the difference in Comey's physical appearance between the House testimony and Senate testimony is striking. Clearly, there was much midnight agony right before that initial appearance. Today, he looked like himself only thinner than usual and a slightly lower energy. Also, he was snark free today. Maybe I am projecting, but it looks to me like he has come to terms with the possible consequences of his decision to testify, though what those consequences may turn out to be may be cause for some depression.
I wonder if Lockheed is not supporting his decision to do so?
(Video courtesy PoliticsTV)